Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola hailed his special side following their passage into the fifth round of The FA Cup with their 2-0 victory over Cardiff City, but once again insisted that players need more protection after Leroy Sané was on the end of a heavy challenge.
No words to describe my pride
It had been quite the eight days for The Citizens having maintained a 12-point gap at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, and secured passage into the Carabao Cup final with a 3-2 win over Bristol City.
They looked to increase their chances of a historic quadruple when they travelled to The Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday, and it proved a comfortable passage into the last-16 for City.
Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring in the opening ten minutes with his excellent free-kick before Raheem Sterling added a second with a rare header. City rarely troubled in the second period but the damage had been done and Guardiola stated post-match that he had "no words" to describe the pride he felt for his side.
"There are no words to describe the pride I feel about my players and my team," Guardiola stated post-match. "We have played many games and we do not have a big squad because of so many injuries and players with problems."
"But they are ready to play every three days," the Catalan proclaimed. "And I feel something very special about that."
"Playing in the FA Cup away to a Championship team like Cardiff, who are at the top of the league, is so complicated," he admitted. "But we react again like a mature team."
"We are in the draw and hopefully we can have a team at home," Guardiola added. "That is my wish."
Embed from Getty Images
Need to protect the artists
Despite the victory, there was a sour note for The Citizens in regards to the fitness of talismanic winger Sané, as the young German was subbed at the break following a heavy challenge from Joe Bennett.
Many would have argued that Bennett should have been dismissed for the challenge on the 22-year-old, but he was dismissed right at death following another heavy challenge this time on youngster Brahim Díaz.
This isn't the first time that Guardiola has called for more protection of players following previous challenges on the likes of Sterling and De Bruyne, the Catalan stated he was unsure of the severity of the German's injury and once again called for the officials of the country to protect the "artists" of the game.
"[Sane] will be out for a while - minimum two weeks, three weeks, one month, we will see tomorrow exactly," he said on Sané's injury. "I said many times the only thing [referees] have to do is protect the players."
"I can accept our disallowed goal, I don't know why but I accept. But please protect the players," the coach insisted. "Not the Man City players, all players. The only thing they can do is that - to protect the players - because it would not happen again."
"It happened once with Leroy, then it happened with Brahim again at the end," Guardiola concluded. "So for the football in general, and for the players who are the artists, they must do that. That's why we are all here."