Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City’s rough FA Cup ride at Cardiff underlined why it is “impossible” for his side to win four trophies this season.
City reached the last 16 of the competition with first-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling clinching a 2-0 win.
But victory came at a cost with City boss Guardiola reporting that Leroy Sane will be “out for a while” after the Germany winger was the victim of a dreadful Joe Bennett tackle right on half-time.
Bennett was later sent off in the final seconds for another poor challenge on Brahim Diaz, and Guardiola marched onto the field at full-time to complain about some of the challenges to referee Lee Mason.
“Did I fear serious injuries? Of course,” Guardiola said after the runaway Premier League leaders had maintained their interest in three cup competitions.
“Every team can play how they want. If they decide to play in that way, perfect.
“But there is one man, in black, and he has to decide what is correct and incorrect.
“When you say, ‘Why don’t you win the four titles?’ I need the players to win the four titles.
“It’s impossible for that to happen. We just go onto West Brom and try to win, go to Burnley and try to win, step by step with the players that we have.”
Guardiola had claimed before the game that City cannot win a quadruple because the cash required is beyond even them.
He said he had “no news” on Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, who City are understood to be in talks to sign before the transfer deadline on Wednesday night.
But Guardiola was more forthcoming about his belief that players should be afforded extra protection by referees.
“I said many times the only thing they (referees) have to do is protect the players,” said Guardiola, who confirmed the extent of Sane’s injury would be determined by a scan on Monday.
“I can accept our disallowed goal, I don’t know why but I accept it. But please protect the players.
“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.
“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.”
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock criticised Bennett for picking up a second yellow card that rules him out of next weekend’s Championship trip to Leeds.
But Warnock also pointed the finger at the visitors over some dubious challenges in front of a 32,339 crowd – a record for a club game at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“They dished it out a bit, they had one or two naughty tackles,” Warnock said. “He (Guardiola) is in England, what do you expect?
“I suppose when you’re like that, you want everything to be nice, pretty and perfect. But you don’t get that here, you get different challenges.
“I was disappointed he (Bennett) got sent off at the end, it was an absolutely pathetic challenge when he is on a booking.
“To do something like that I think is disrespectful to his team-mates.”