Guardiola unhappy with ball after Man City juggernaut halted
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — After thrilling English soccer by scoring 42 goals in 13 games this season, Manchester City’s attacking juggernaut was finally halted in the English League Cup.
Pep Guardiola thinks he knows why.
“The ball is not a serious ball for a professional game,” the City manager said.
City needed a penalty shootout to get past Wolverhampton Wanderers in the last 16 on Tuesday after the game ended 0-0 after extra time. It was the first time Guardiola’s team had failed to score in a match all season, with its last shut-out coming against Manchester United in April.
England’s secondary cup competition uses a Mitre ball, whereas the Premier League uses a Nike ball. Guardiola said his players complained about the ball after the match against Wolves.
“It is not acceptable, the ball was unacceptable for a high-level competition,” Guardiola said. “It is too light, it moves all over the place, it is not a good ball. It is impossible to score with a ball like that.”
The English Football League, which organizes the competition, said the same ball is used in the English lower leagues and has been “tested in accordance with the ‘FIFA Quality Programme for Footballs’ and meet the ‘FIFA Quality Pro’ standard.”
“All balls used in the professional game are required to meet this standard,” the EFL statement said. “Clearly, preference is a subjective matter, but overall the entertainment provided across last night’s Round Four ties would suggest that the ball used is not having a negative impact in the competition.”
The EFL said it will “engage with Mr. Guardiola and Manchester City to fully understand any concerns” ahead of the next round.
There were 18 goals scored in six matches in the last 16 on Tuesday, with City involved in the only goalless draw. City beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in the previous round.
Guardiola said his players had “one or two days” to practice with the Mitre ball ahead of the League Cup game.
“But the ball is bad for one year or two years, it’s not acceptable,” he said. “All the players complain.”
One of them was Yaya Toure, who played the entire game against Wolves.
“It’s everything,” Toure said. “Shooting, the ball is very light. When you touch it, it’s floating. It’s rubbish.”
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80