Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock defended his players in the aftermath of Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round defeat to Manchester City.
The Premier League leaders lost Leroy Sane to an ankle injury just before half-time at the Cardiff City Stadium, with boss Pep Guardiola later claiming the player could now be out of action for a month.
Cardiff left-back Joe Bennett was booked for the tackle and then sent off after picking up a second caution following another poor challenge on Brahim Diaz in second-half stoppage-time.
However, despite Guardiola’s post-match calls for greater protection from referees, Warnock said it was just part and parcel of the game in England.
“They dished out a bit as well. I think they had one or two naughty tackles,” Warnock said after the game.
“He is in England, isn’t he, what do you expect? When you are like that, you want everything to be nice and pretty and perfect. But you do not get that in England.
“You get different challenges, don’t you?”
As for the clash itself at the Cardiff City Stadium, Warnock said he was delighted with his side’s display in their 2-0 loss against the runaway Premier League leaders.
“I was really pleased,” he said. “I know it sounds silly, but I was really pleased. I just wanted us to put on a bit of a performance, as best we could.
“I saw flashes of certain things today which I was pleased with and which I have not seen since before Christmas.
“I thought there were four or five and Marko [Grujic] did better second half after that initial getting caught in possession. [Callum] Paterson came through well, Liam [Feeney] did well when he came on. There were quite a few plusses today.
“I thought Ken [Zohore] is getting back to himself, so if we could sign another striker this week…”
Cardiff currently sit third in the Championship standings, just two points behind second-placed Derby County in the race to win automatic promotion to the Premier League.
And Warnock is hopeful Sunday’s meeting with Man City will now spur his team on to get back into the top flight.
“I thought the fans were unbelievable, if I am honest,” he said. “All behind the goal all game, the noise, and it just shows you what we have to aim for really.
“Because I think it has whetted everybody’s appetite that and seeing them queue for tickets last week was special, just like the old times – to sell out on a Tuesday before we play was incredible.”