It’s obviously against the rules of the game – clubs can’t even have eleven substitutes available, much less use more than three in a competitive match – but if Manuel Pellegrini could have done so, he would have replaced his entire side at halftime in Manchester City’s FA Cup tie with Watford.
After just thirty minutes, the Championship side were up 2-0 against the Premier League giants, and at the Etihad no less. Beppe Sannino had his men scoring with quick counter attacks that City were simply unable to react against. Sergio Agüero saved his side from further blushes by scoring a hat trick in the final half hour, with Aleksandar Kolarov adding a fourth to make it a 4-2 City win.
Despite his side’s victory, Pellegrini is less than impressed. The Manchester City boss said, “I don’t know what will happen in the future but I am absolutely sure that if we played as we did in the first half, it’s impossible [to win the quadruple].”
Pellegrini also revealed that he hadn’t planned on Agüero playing the full 90 minutes, as the striker has only recently recovered from a calf injury. The Chilean had obviously assumed that the rest of his City side, perfect at home in domestic competition this season, would be strong enough that Agüero would be able to sit out at least the final third of the match.
While City may have revealed a few weaknesses in going down Watford, the manager insists that won’t change the club’s approach in the final few days of the transfer market. He is not concerned with his players’ talents, but rather with their motivation: “If you don’t play with 100% concentration and intensity you will not win the game. Watford did that in the first 45 minutes; we played jogging and that way is impossible to win.”