Bacary Sagna believes Manchester City are being “unfairly treated” by referees after being denied a clear penalty against Everton in midweek.
City missed the chance to close the gap on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League on Wednesday when they were held to a 0-0 draw at the Etihad Stadium, but Manuel Pellegrini said “the whole stadium” could see his side should have been awarded a late penalty when Raheem Sterling was brought down by John Stones.
Our Ref Review feature shows it was the fourth major decision to go against City this season, but eight have gone in their favour, making them the most fortunate team behind Leicester City and Manchester United.
However, asked about the incident involving Sterling, Sagna said: “It’s not the first time. In the beginning we didn’t say anything but now – it was the case against Leicester with Agüero [as well].
“The whole team are being unfairly treated. I don’t know why because it isn’t the first time it’s happened this season. Mistakes are natural – they [referees] are human beings – but at the end of the day we’re not getting the penalties – against Everton, Leicester and many other games.
“I don’t want to blame the referee because he’s the only official on the pitch. Maybe have someone behind the goal. What do we have to do to win a penalty if we get the touch in the box?
“When it’s against us it’s clearly a penalty and we’re punished straight away. If it happens in the middle of the pitch it’s not a problem; it’s clearly a foul. When in the box it’s a big difference when it shouldn’t be.”
Pellegrini offered a more balanced view than Sagna, acknowledging there would be times that a refereeing mistake went in City’s favour.
“It’s not to be diplomatic, it’s the way I always think,” Pellegrini said. “Of course you are very frustrated when you don’t receive such a clear penalty at a very important moment of the game. In the last two games against Everton we had two clear penalties and that changed the score.
“But as manager you must just complain for one minute and you have a lot of other actions in the game where the referee might make a mistake that’s good for you.
“I try every time to understand, although sometimes it’s difficult. But I don’t want to talk about the referee to have an excuse about the result. Unfortunately sometimes they give [for] you and sometimes they don’t.”