José Mourinho moaned about constantly being portrayed as "the bad guy" in his war of words with Arsène Wenger, then accepted being knocked out of the FA Cup at the Etihad with his usual lack of grace. The Chelsea manager conceded Manchester City were the better side but complained about the referee, an "offside" goal and even the postponed fixture in midweek that allowed the home side a longer rest.
"It is very simple to analyse, the best team won," Mourinho said. "City played better than we did, they deserved to win. I think that just gives more credit to my players for winning here in the league two weeks ago and for beating City twice this season. They are a good team, hard to beat. Was the referee poor in the second half? Yes, but even with perfect refereeing we would still have lost. Even if we allow that the second goal was offside City would still have won the game 1-0.
"We didn't want to go out of the FA Cup, because I don't think an extra one or two games in the season would be a problem for us, but it was easy to see a difference in freshness between the two teams. We had a match a few days ago, City did not, and you could see the difference in freshness in [Nemanja] Matic, to name just one example."
In fairness, Manuel Pellegrini held his hands up to the last charge. "It was important not to have to play Sunderland on Wednesday," the City manager said. "You could see the players were fresher for it. I noticed that in training on Thursday and Friday and I knew we would have a good chance against Chelsea. They are a very good team, but we did not allow them any chances to shoot at our goal. I do not regard this as revenge for the league defeat, but it does show we do not intend to change the way we play just because we lost one game."
City's progress means they are still competing on four fronts, though Pellegrini prefers not to speculate about the possibility of winning all four trophies. "We never talk about that," he said. "We will try to fight in all the competitions, this is just one of them. The most important thing we did today was to beat a great team."