Neil Warnock has abandoned plans for Cardiff to take a mid-season break so that he and his players can reflect on the Emiliano Sala tragedy in privacy with their families.
Following Saturday’s crucial 2-1 victory at Southampton they are without a fixture until they host Watford on February 22, and Warnock had been preparing to take his squad to Tenerife ahead of the run-in that will determine whether they succeed in preserving their Premier League status.
Sala’s body was discovered on Thursday in the crashed plane that had been taking him to Cardiff, and though his team have responded admirably in the circumstances since the plane went missing on January 21, the manager believes that they will benefit from time with their families.
His captain Sol Bamba previously revealed some of their players had become fearful of flying since the incident, and the 70-year-old Warnock said: “The club gave me permission to fly out to Tenerife, to take them all for four days.
“But after what’s happened over the past two weeks, I’d rather cuddle my kids and see my missus because it’s been a long two weeks. I’ve never known anything like this in my life and I’ve seen most things.
“They’ll all be reflecting on what’s happened and your family is more important than football isn’t it? They are all booking different flights and some of them aren’t going anywhere. I’m going somewhere near Swansea, me, for two nights.
“(Victor Camarasa’s) going back to Spain for a few days, that’ll be good, he’ll be having treatment on his calf and he’ll be training with his fitness guy over there and in nicer weather with his family.”
Warnock acknowledged after the match that “we could have put the ball in the corner” rather than risk chasing their last-gasp winner.
And he added: “One of my staff said the point might have kept us up. I think when you get to my age you don’t worry too much really. You don’t know what’s around the corner, especially what’s happened around here the last two weeks.”
Victory on Saturday, secured by finishes from Sol Bamba and Kenneth Zohore either side of Jack Stephens’ late equalising goal, meant that for the first time since April 1962 the club have won successive top-flight fixtures.
Warnock has targeted further points from a run that includes Everton, Wolves, West Ham and Brighton after Watford, and Aron Gunnarsson said: “(Sala’s death) brought everyone together, the performances and the fans and the lads and everyone around the club have been amazing at this difficult time.
“It has been really difficult but the boys have stuck together with everyone around the club.
“The most important thing was for the family to mourn. Knowing that now, hopefully the pilot will be found and his family can mourn. It has been difficult but we have stuck together and our gaffer said after the game, ‘This one was for Sala’.”
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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was left perplexed by Michael Oliver’s decision to book Son Heung-min for diving in his side’s 3-1 win over Leicester.
Son was booked in the first half after going down in the area under a challenge from Harry Maguire, becoming the fourth Spurs player to be yellow-carded for simulation this season.
The South Korean went on to get on the scoresheet at Wembley, putting the finishing touches on a win that had been set up by Davinson Sanchez and Christian Eriksen goals.
Oliver did point to the spot when he awarded Leicester a penalty, which Jamie Vardy missed with his first kick after coming on as a substitute immediately before, though the striker did get on the scoresheet later on.
It was the second time Oliver has denied Son a penalty at Wembley this season after he chose not to award a spot-kick in the final moments of Liverpool’s 2-1 win in September.
Pochettino has not forgotten that incident and was incredulous in his response to Sunday’s re-run.
“Today do you think that Sonny deserved to be booked? Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable.
“When you compare the situation with the penalty against us, unbelievable. The problem is, I told Michael Oliver, the situation of Liverpool in the last minute that should be a penalty, but it was a clear penalty.
“It was the same referee but now I don’t know how he has measured the situation. It is so difficult.
“I am a person that always accepts the mistake but I think it was so strange the situation today.
“I am more relaxed now because we won the game, three important points we got, but so disappointed with the situation because everyone wants to talk about different clubs or players, but do you think we are a team that is trying to cheat the referee? Come on, we are the most innocent people on the pitch.”
The win keeps Tottenham in the Premier League title race, five points off the top, after their 20th win of the season.
Their attention now turns to the Champions League, where they host Borussia Dortmund in the last 16, though Pochettino is unhappy with the scheduling of this game against the Foxes.
Dortmund played on Saturday and the Argentinian believes his side are now at a massive disadvantage by having 24 hours less to recover.
He said: “I feel so embarrassed because I can accept to play today if Dortmund play today and then we play Wednesday, but I cannot understand why we’re playing with a massive disadvantage.
“Twenty-four hours in this type of competition, the last 16, is a massive disadvantage.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to compete. For me, I’m going to stop describing the real situation, but I think there is no sense.
“It is so difficult to understand why, when we had one week clear to play this game and to schedule it on a different day, and only I am explaining my feelings and how difficult it is to prepare a game when you only have today and then you’re going to need to play.”
Pep Guardiola hailed his Manchester City players after the champions continued their stunning response to defeat at Newcastle by thrashing Chelsea 6-0.
Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick – a record-equalling 11th in the Premier League – as City powered back to the top of the Premier League by demolishing Maurizio Sarri’s men at the Etihad Stadium.
The victory was City’s third in the space of eight days since a surprise defeat at St James’ Park, with Arsenal and Everton having also been brushed aside.
Guardiola, whose side lead Liverpool at the top on goal difference, said: “After three games in a week – tough games against Arsenal and at Goodison Park – playing the way we played with this intensity and patience to find spaces in the right moments, the players were outstanding.
“I just said to them thank you for what they have done.
“After Newcastle we spoke to each other and put ourselves in front of a mirror, and accepted the reality. After that we worked, moved forward.
“We are there, we are the leaders, but Liverpool have one more game (in hand).”
Asked if it was one of City’s best performances of his reign, Guardiola said: “Yes, we played good.
“The first four times we arrived we scored three goals. Sergio missed one but after he made an incredible goal.
“It was not easy because Chelsea demanded a lot and we defended deeper, like never before, because they have the quality to find spaces. They created problems.
“Six goals against Chelsea is not easy and we are so pleased for this week. Now we can have two days off and prepare for Newport and the (Carabao Cup) final.”
Aguero’s hat-trick equalled Alan Shearer’s competition record of 11 and was also his 15th in City colours. In the process he also became City’s record league goalscorer with 160.
He should even have had more having missed a sitter in the early stages and hit the bar.
Raheem Sterling also scored twice, with Ilkay Gundogan netting City’s other goal.
Asked what he thought of Aguero’s miss, Guardiola said: “He said to me he saw Kepa coming quick to close the space and he wanted to be precise, close to the post. That way he missed.
“I told him not to do it again but, after, his reaction was a little bit better!”
Guardiola, who won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues in charge of Barcelona, was asked how his current side compared to the one he had at the Nou Camp.
He said: “We have won three titles since we have been together. In Barcelona we won much, much more.
“But in spite of the titles, the desire to do their best and respect for where they are is incredible. That is quite similar, but I don’t want to compare.”