Manuel Pellegrini Banned for Being a Jerk
As you may recall, Manuel Pellegrini blamed his team’s loss to Barcelona in their Champions League tie on the referee, Jonas Eriksson of Sweden (who happens to be very highly-rated).
Look, a lot of managers do that. I don’t like it and I don’t respect managers who do it. But it happens.
But this was a whole different level. It wasn’t just dark hints and finger pointing. He flat out called Eriksson a cheat, claiming that he favored Barcelona on every call (untrue) and gave Manchester City nothing. (Also untrue, considering Gael Clichy handled the ball in the box and got away with it.)
But there’s more! He claimed that Eriksson gave Barcelona the penalty after Martin Demichelis took down Lionel Messi at the edge of the box (it turned out to be ever so slightly outside) because he was making up for a mistake he’d made against Barcelona in last year’s tournament. And also, because he’s Swedish.
I quote: “I think it was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in charge and a referee who made a mistake against Barcelona in the group stages.”
He went on to say that Sweden doesn’t have “important” football, which should disqualify Eriksson from refereeing big games.
I’ve already said my piece on all of that, but I still have to say that in all my years of following football and referees, this is the worst, most blatant attack on a referee I’ve seen. And Eriksson is a damn good referee who didn’t deserve it.
It destroyed any respect I had for Pellegrini, and turned me from secretly rooting for City to win the title (the lesser of the evils, I thought) to openly hoping they fall to pieces. And his non-apology apology just made it worse.
Fortunately, UEFA agrees with me. (As they do.) They banned him from the touchline for the next two Champions League matches. Which probably means he’ll be banned next year, too, since the chances of their getting past Barcelona are slim.
And I’m cool with that.