Pep Guardiola said it would be an “incredible mistake” to criticise his Manchester City players after they played “really well” in a 2-0 Premier League defeat at Tottenham.
Champions City remain a mammoth 22 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool after second-half goals from Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min boosted Spurs’ bid for a top-four finish.
Oleksandr Zinchenko was sent off for a second bookable offence before debutant Bergwijn opened the scoring at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Ilkay Gundogan had a first-half penalty saved by Hugo Lloris as misfiring City fired another blank four days after a 1-0 derby defeat to Manchester United in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.
Guardiola kept his players in the dressing longer than usual after their loss in North London, but the City boss revealed he had been talking to his staff and wife rather than reading the riot act.
“On this performance, how should I be critical?” The Spaniard, who was unable to give a diagnosis of an injury obtained by Raheem Sterling, told Sky Sports. “On this performance, it would be an incredible mistake to say how bad they are.
“We created chances and conceded few. I always feel good football is when you create more chances than the opposite team. I always believe in this concept, you are close to winning the games.”
The former Barcelona coach added: “We played good but lost the game. It happened again. They had two shots and scored two goals. I don’t have too many things to say about the performance.
“It happened before, against United. They created I don’t know how many chances, only a few, we had a lot and didn’t score. We have to accept it and analyse it, sometimes it is not easy. We did really well, honestly.”
Guardiola pointed to the dismissal of Zinchenko as being a pivotal moment.
“The sending off was a key point, having 10 and 11 is completely different. We said at half-time be careful.”