Man City match-winner Bernardo Silva: FA ‘don’t care’ about players’ wellbeing

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Match-winner Bernardo Silva has accused the Football Association of not caring about the wellbeing of players over the scheduling of Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final.

Silva scored the late clincher as a weary-looking City ground out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday to book a second-successive final appearance.

Yet – after the game – manager Pep Guardiola hit out at the decision to make City play less than three days after they were taken to a penalty shootout in their draining Champions League quarter-final loss to Real Madrid.

He contrasted this to the preparation time afforded to Sunday’s semi-finalists Manchester United and Coventry, neither of whom had midweek fixtures, and branded the situation “unacceptable”.

Those sentiments were echoed by Silva, who felt City had been treated unfairly.

The Portuguese said: “We didn’t play on a level field because the FA didn’t give us a chance to recover, which in my opinion is not reasonable at all.

“I’m saying this because we won. If we didn’t win, I wouldn’t say it because I don’t like to find excuses, but I don’t think it’s acceptable we had to play (on Saturday).

“It’s too much. We played 120 minutes less than three days (prior) and we had to play against a team that didn’t travel because they’re from London.

“And they had five days waiting for us and thinking about our game. There’s no excuse for the game to not be Sunday. It’s not acceptable. For all of us as a team, that’s how we feel.

“It looks like they don’t care because we’ve said it many times. It’s not about wanting to be favourites, it’s about health.”

Silva feels there could be greater consideration given to the impact of European competitions on players when domestic fixtures are scheduled.

He said: “I wasn’t fine at all. I’ll be honest, I was feeling my left hamstring and my right calf. This is not fair for Man City, for us.

“I say Man City – maybe other clubs went through it. This is just our personal experience.

“They have to pay more attention to these details. We represent England in these European competitions and it’s important for England, for this country, for other clubs to qualify for the Champions League, Europa League, Conference League. So they need to pay more attention.”

The FA has not commented directly but its position on such matters is that the needs of the clubs, local authorities, police and broadcasters all need to be considered and balanced. It schedules all ties collaboratively.

In this case, the matter is also complicated by Chelsea having a rearranged Premier League game against Arsenal next Tuesday.

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