FA confirms Aguero escapes punishment but Man City & Wigan both charged

The Football Association has charged both Manchester City and Wigan with failing to control their players following Monday night’s ill-tempered FA Cup clash.

It has also been confirmed that Sergio Aguero will face no action for his role in a fracas with Wigan fans on the pitch at full-time, as reported by Goal on Tuesday afternoon.

The governing body has also confirmed that there will not be any action taken against either club for a confrontation between City boss Pep Guardiola and Wigan counterpart Paul Cook in the tunnel at half-time.

However, both sides are likely to be punished for the reaction of their players following Fabian Delph’s first-half red card.

“Both Wigan Athletic and Manchester City have been charged for failing to control their players in relation to the dismissal of Fabian Delph during last night’s [Monday] Emirates FA Cup fifth round tie,” an FA statement reads. “The clubs have until 6pm [GMT] on Friday 23 February 2018 to respond.”

Several Wigan players surrounded referee Anthony Taylor as he deliberated over Delph’s punishment, while City’s players waded in once the red card was shown. 

Aguero, Guardiola and Cook were also involved in a touchline row but none of them will face specific action.

Those rows continued into the tunnel at half-time, with television footage showing Guardiola and Cook arguing as they made their way to the dressing rooms, but after speaking to relevant parties throughout the day on Tuesday the FA has decided not to act.

City were fined £35,000 for failing to control their players on two occasions last season, against Chelsea in December 2016 and Liverpool in March 2017.

The FA has also asked both clubs for further information on security arrangements at the DW Stadium and the behaviour of both sets of fans.

The statement continued: “In addition, both clubs have been asked to provide their observations following the crowd trouble at the end of the game and have until Monday 26 February 2018 to respond.”

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Wigan and Greater Manchester Police are both looking into how hundreds of Wigan fans were able to invade the pitch at full-time, and why it took police and stewards so long to prevent home supporters approaching the away end.

Goal understands City are also considering a formal complaint to police over a fan who allegedly attacked Aguero. It is claimed the fan hit the striker, spat in his ear and said “suck my d***”.

It is also alleged that City supporters removed an advertising hoarding and threw it at police.


Aguero to face no action over Wigan fan fracas

Sergio Aguero will face no punishment from the Football Association for his role in a fracas with Wigan fans following Monday night’s FA Cup clash, the FA has confirmed.

Goal reported earlier on Tuesday that Aguero would not be disciplined for his actions in the incident.

The FA has been in discussions with Manchester City and Wigan throughout Tuesday, and sources told Goal that the governing body had informed Aguero that he will not be charged.

Hundreds of Wigan supporters flooded the pitch after their side knocked City out of the FA Cup at the DW Stadium on Monday, one of several other incidents under investigation by the FA.

Aguero was approached by a small number of fans and was seen jostling with them, seemingly after being provoked, before he was pulled away from the scene.

Sources have told Goal that City and Aguero are considering legal action against one fan, who they allege hit the striker, spat at him and said “suck my d***’.

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Goal also reported earlier on Tuesday that the FA would be studying footage of the incident, captured either by broadcasters or supporters, to establish the facts.

They have since decided that Aguero does not have a case to answer, and have conveyed that message to City’s lawyers.

The FA is continuing to investigate other incidents from Monday’s game, including Wigan’s security arrangements as well as the behaviour of supporters of both clubs.

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The FA has announced charges for both clubs for failure to control their players following the red card issued to City defender Fabian Delph late in the first half. 

However, clashes between City boss Pep Guardiola and Wigan’s Paul Cook, both on the touchline during the first half and in the tunnel at half-time will not result in discipline for either manager. 


Revealed: Details of FA investigation into Wigan-Man City clashes

The Football Associaton will seek observations from both Manchester City and Wigan as part of a wide-reaching investigation into the ill-tempered FA Cup clash between the two sides on Monday night.

Wigan knocked City out thanks to Will Grigg’s 79th-minute goal but the match was overshadowed by other events, with fans, coaches and players all involved in clashes during and after the game at the DW Stadium.

The FA will spend Tuesday studying footage of a number of incidents, including footage obtained by broadcasters and supporters, and speaking to those caught up in the most contentious scenes.

Both clubs, their managers and several players, including Sergio Aguero, could all face action, depending on what the FA finds in the next 24 hours.

It is expected that City striker Aguero will be asked for his version of events as the FA seeks to establish exactly what happened when the Argentine was confronted by supporters on the pitch at the final whistle. 

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Television footage showed that Aguero was involved in a confrontation with supporters. Sources close to the striker have told Goal that he was struck in the head from behind and spat at before attempting to push an aggressor away, although the FA will use various different camera angles, as well as credible footage filmed by supporters inside the stadium and posted on social media, to establish the facts.

The governing body will also speak to Wigan regarding their safety arrangements for the match in a bid to establish how the pitch invasion was allowed to happen in the first place. Wigan will also be quizzed on the behaviour of their supporters; as well as the Aguero incident, a number of the club’s fans were seen approaching the away end and goading City supporters before police and stewards arrived on the scene.

City officials will also be questioned over the behaviour of their own supporters, after pictures suggested that an advertising hoarding was thrown from the away end at police officers. 

The ugly scenes can be traced back to Fabian Delph’s first-half red card, which sparked a number of arguments and set the tone for the rest of the match. The red card incident itself will not be looked at again, however. 

Referee Anthony Taylor’s decision to send off Delph prompted protests from City players and coach Pep Guardiola. Guardiola was involved in a touchline row with Wigan counterpart Paul Cook, before Aguero also got involved and needed to be pulled away from Cook as players jostled around them.

Pep Guardiola Paul Cook Manchester City Wigan Athletic

The argument spilled over into the tunnel at half-time, with television pictures showing Guardiola and Cook exchanged in a heated debate as they headed towards the dressing rooms. 

Those pictures also suggested that Guardiola, following his row with Cook, raced towards the officials as they left the field of play, although the live feed was interrupted.

The FA has received Taylor’s match report and will study it as part of its investigation. Given the officials would not have seen the earlier row between Guardiola and Cook, the FA will also use the television footage obtained by the BBC, as well as asking the protagonists for their version of events.

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Sources within the FA believe they will be in a position to decide whether to bring charges or not on Wednesday, once all footage has been studied and statements have been taken.

Goal reported on Monday night that City themselves will look to speak to Wigan about their safety arrangements, as they believe their players’ safety was put at risk.

Wigan confirmed on Tuesday that they will launch a full investigation into the pitch invasion.


The resurrection of Gundogan: Man City man back to his brilliant Borussia Dortmund best

Twenty games, or around 2000 minutes. That’s the amount of game time Ilkay Gundogan needed to get back to his best.

Speaking at the start of December, Marti Perarnau, the author who charted Pep Guardiola’s time at Bayern Munich with incredible detail, declared that Gundogan was “not in good shape,” but that the midfielder “could arrive in March and April at a very good level” if he were to play roughly 20 matches over Christmas and beyond.

“He’s not fit, he’s not in good shape,” Perarnau told the 93:20 podcast. “But he understands very well the tempo of the play that the team needs at each moment, like David Silva.

“I think he needs 20 more matches in his legs. He hasn’t played too many matches in the last three years.

“I hope in 20 matches we will see a very good Gundogan.”

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He has played in 17 games since that interview, a rough total of 1,150 minutes, and the evidence suggests Perarnau was right.

Gundogan’s two-goal, man-of-the-match performance against Basel in midweek was a reminder of the form he was starting to produce last season, before a serious knee injury forced him to miss roughly 10 of his 18 months as a City player.

“I love to play for this club, for this manager, with these team-mates, it’s just fun,” Gundogan said after the game in Switzerland. “Every single guy understands, is feeling it, and can see it that we have a very special group, with a very special atmosphere.”

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He is finally starting to play his role in that group, the role expected of him when he signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2016.

After all, he was the very first signing of the Guardiola era, designed to be come in and help the Catalan impose his fast passing style in English football. As Perarnau notes, Gundogan understands the flow of a game just as David Silva does.

But, thanks to his injury, in his 18 months in Manchester he has only fleetingly shown his best qualities.

The German’s first period at City, between his belated debut on September 14, 2016 and injury exactly three months later, had as many highs as it did lows. Standing in for either David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne, he dovetailed well with whichever man he played alongside, helping to establish City’s possession game. He even chipped in with doubles against Barcelona and West Brom, his knack for arriving in the box at the right moment surprising even those who had watched him closely in the Bundesliga.

But Guardiola, perhaps too confident in his side’s ability, was ramping up his tactical plans during this period, attempting to play all three of his creative midfielders at once, with Fernandinho and a three-man defence behind them. The Blues managed to dominate possession but as a result of failures elsewhere the experiment rarely looked convincing. In truth, none of the three midfielders looked at their best, either.

So much so that when Gundogan was ruled out for the season, in the very first game after Guardiola simplified his plans after a bruising defeat at Leicester, it was seen, in the coldest terms, a blessing in disguise: with an uncomplicated back four in place, Gundogan’s injury also deprived Guardiola of the temptation to cram three creative midfielders into the same line-up.

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Guardiola had worked out how to control games with just De Bruyne and Silva by the time Gundogan returned last September, and thanks to their performances and his own physical limitation, the German had to wait for his opportunities.

He was handed his first start in the EFL Cup in September, but a nasty kick to the ankle hampered his progress and he did not start again for five weeks.

Since then, the end of October, he has often been called upon to stand in for Silva.

No City player, going back to when Silva first signed for the club in 2010, has managed to fill the Spaniard’s boots sufficiently, but Gundogan has shown that he can do a fine job; against Napoli away and Spurs at home he helped pull the strings of impressive 4-2 and 4-1 victories respectively.

Those were open, fast-paced games but Gundogan also proved he can unlock tighter contests. Replacing De Bruyne, he provided two clever assists in two minutes to turn an FA Cup tie with Burnley on its head.

Gundogan can suffer by being compared to his two influential team-mates – his failure to find “the last pass” in the recent draw at Burnley seemed worse because it is easily imagined that Silva would have delivered it – but he would probably walk into any other midfield in the country on current form.

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And certainly when he gets those 2000 minutes under his belt. With key fixtures in all four competitions coming up in the next few weeks, he appears to be hitting form at exactly the right time.

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Other players are also returning from injuries and Gundogan, as predicted by Perarnau, looks set to have a key role in the final months of what could be a record-breaking season.

“The team needs a very good Gundogan,” Perarnau added. “I think he can be at his highest level if he plays 20, 25 matches in December, January and February. He could arrive in March and April at a very good level. I think the team will need Gundogan.”

Sources close to Guardiola’s staff have intimated this week that he is finally back to his Dortmund best, but that level of performance could merely be a temporary pit-stop; given how most of his team-mates have progressed under Guardiola’s tutelage, you get the feeling that Gundogan’s very best is still to come.