Manchester City had a night to forget as the team suffered an unexpected 2-1 defeat in the Champions League on Tuesday night. The Blues suffered their second loss of the group stage away to German side RB Leipzig.
But even worse than the defeat was the Red card Kyle Walker received in the later stages of the game. The City right-back was sent off for an unprovoked hack at RB Leipzig striker Andre Silva.
That sent the Portuguese crashing to the floor but he quickly rose up to confront Walker. It also drew the ire of the opposition players who sprang to the defence of their teammate. After some shoving and restraining between the players the referee issued Walker a straight red card, and rightly so.
The sending off will come at a price as the England defender will miss City’s next game in the competition. He could even miss both legs of the round of 16 if UEFA consider the offence violent conduct.
Walker was disappointed with his action and was downcast after the game. That drew the support of his teammates with Oleksandr Zinchenko offering him timely advise on the way forward.
The Ukrainian called on him to pick himself up and forget about the incident.
“Kyle is such an important player for us, everyone knows that he’s one of the best full-backs in the world. The team needs him,” Zinchenko said after the game.
“Unfortunately he got the red card, I don’t know if it was the right decision because I didn’t see it.
“Yeah, he was disappointed in the dressing room. But there is no time to be sad, we have to react well. We have to move on.”
However, Walker’s loss could be Zinchenko’s gain. The midfielder-turned defender is now the obvious choice for the left-back position.
Joao Cancelo will be moved back to his favorite right-back position while Zinchenko will fill the void at the left side of the defence.
On his part, Walker will do well to learn from this incident. The behaviour was uncalled for and rather uncharacteristic of a City player. It’s one Pep Guardiola frowns upon is usually slow to forgive.
With the level of competition in the team, it can be very easy to get on the manager’s bad books and lose his place in the team. Fortunately, he can count on his top form that has made the right-back position his own. That may just be his saving grace.
Walker has been so good, Guardiola prefers him at right-back. That’s despite Cancelo’s consistently outstanding displays. To make room for the Portugal international, the manager has had to shift him to the left.
Moving forward, the incident should provide an important lesson for the Englishman and the team as a whole.
Getting sent off in a dead-rubber game and having to miss an important match in the knockout stage is like shooting oneself in the foot.
It's absolutely unnecessary!