Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva have revealed the frustration in the squad at being targeted by overly aggressive tackles in recent matches.
City’s players are nursing their bumps and bruises ahead of Saturday’s trip to Burnley after suffering from the gruelling physical approach of opposition sides.
City manager Pep Guardiola was angry at a series of high challenges by West Brom players in their Premier League clash on Wednesday, including a high-flying lunge by Matt Phillips on young substitute Brahim Diaz.
Belgium midfielder De Bruyne also got hacked at by West Brom’s James McClean on the way to scoring City’s second in their 3-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.
The incidents followed Sunday’s FA Cup victory at Cardiff, in which Germany midfielder Leroy Sane suffered an ankle ligament injury following a tackle that will sideline him for at least six weeks.
That led Guardiola to call on referees to give greater protection to his players to prevent injuries.
“For football in general players are the artists. The only thing they can do is protect them,” Guardiola said. “Referees have to protect — not just mine, all players.”
De Bruyne said attempts to stop City’s free-flowing football with aggression had started to grate on the Premier League leaders.
“Sometimes it gets frustrating for us,” he said. “A lot of teams are making a lot of fouls against us. We make a foul, we get a yellow card. I don’t know how it’s possible sometimes.
“I don’t know what they are thinking — you can also pull a shirt, that’s more effective than a tackle.
“For the moment we don’t have a lot of players — particularly among the forwards. We just have one player for each position and hopefully people can come back as quickly as possible.”
De Bruyne felt McClean’s cynical attempt to haul him down deserved more than a yellow card from referee Bobby Madley.
“Let’s just say the ball was not in the neighbourhood,” added the 26-year-old.
“The referee told me he didn’t touch me good enough to get the red card but obviously I told him ‘I saw the guy, I was jumping’.”
Silva believes referees have eased off recently by letting dangerous challenges go unpunished, urging officials to come down hard on offenders.
“The referees have to do their job and if it’s a red card they have to give the red card — they are not doing that over the last few months,” Silva said.
“We’ve seen with Leroy. It was a terrible accident and now he’s injured for two months. Against West Brom it could have been Brahim, it could have been Kevin on the second goal.”
“We hope that soon they start protecting our players because the way other teams are tackling our players it’s not part of the game, it’s not fair play and they have to try to punish the players that play this way.”
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