x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Mancini-Gerrard flare-up over tackle after Manchester City lose to Liverpool

The match-winner for Liverpool was not impressed over the coach's protest over two-footed challenge on Joleon Lescott.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, right, vies for the ball against Liverpool's Steven Gerrard during the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final.
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, right, vies for the ball against Liverpool's Steven Gerrard during the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final.

The Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard were embroiled in a war of words following the clubs' League Cup semi-final clash at Eastlands.

Gerrard's early penalty gave the visitors a 1-0 first leg lead to take back to Anfield but Wednesday's game was overshadowed by a late, two-footed challenge by Glen Johnson, theLiverpool defender, on City's Joleon Lescott.

An angry Mancini claimed that the tackle, which went unpunished by referee Lee Mason, was worse than the offence committed by City's Vincent Kompany early in Sunday's FA Cup defeat by Manchester United, an incident which brought the defender a straight red card and a four-match suspension.

Mancini's claims were not appreciated by Gerrard, however, and the Italian and the England midfielder had a heated discussion about the incident in the tunnel after the game.

"No, I don't think so," said Gerrard when asked whether he felt Johnson should have been red-carded. "It was a clear winner of the tackle.

"I'm surprised at that [Mancini's comments]. He had a go at Wayne Rooney last Sunday for trying to get one of his players sent off. Now he's trying to get one of our players in trouble. I don't think that works."

Mancini, though, had a different interpretation of the incident, one which television replays seemed to support.

"Johnson's tackle against Lescott, it was worse than the one Vinny did against United," said the City manager. "Everyone could see that.

"The world is going down because there are people in every job who make a mistake and do not apologise. I make a mistake and apologise.

"This tackle was worse. Gerrard came to me and said 'You said'...

"Steven Gerrard can say what he wants for me, no problem. I said what I think. I'm used to being like this. It's not important, Steven Gerrard or other players."

The late flashpoint marred a match in which City slumped to their fourth defeat in eight games.

Without brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure, on international duty with the Ivory Coast, plus the suspended Kompany and injured David Silva, City looked a shadow of the side that have built a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

"We played two difficult games," said Mancini of two home losses in four days followed a run of 30 unbeaten matches at Eastlands.

"I knew this before, January would be an important month for us because we have lost three or four important players and would probably have some problems. Both games, I didn't think we deserved to lose, but we lost."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was pleased with his team's display but refused to accept the return leg, in two weeks, would now be a much easier match for his side.

"In the second-half, after getting the goal advantage, we just battened down the hatches," he said.

"Not too many teams have come here and not had goals against, so it's a fantastic effort by us.

"We might have a slight advantage with the goal, but there will be nobody jumping through hoops. We'll just be as professional as we can at our place."

Dalglish, who claimed not to have seen the Johnson foul that incensed Mancini, was full of praise for match-winner Gerrard, looking back to near his best form after an injury-plagued year.

"Steven will get better every time he finishes a match," said Dalglish. "He is gaining the benefit from it as well, so it's great to see him back."



Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, insists the spate of recent racism cases has not harmed the English game, claiming that other countries might not have acted so decisively.

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez is serving an eight-game suspension for racially abusing a black opponent, while Chelsea captain John Terry will appear in court next month on a charge of making a racist insult during another league match in October.

Asked if the league's brand had been damaged by the cases, Scudamore responded: "No I don't think so ... I am absolutely confident that English football's record of dealing with this issue is good."

Scudamore added that the swift action is "far better than what goes on in many other countries."

"When it comes to the racism issue there is zero tolerance," Scudamore said late Wednesday. "We as a sport have led the line and continue to lead the line, there's no room for it."