Manuel Pellegrini has apologised for claiming that referee Jonas Eriksson was "not impartial" during Manchester City's Champions League defeat to Barcelona, and for saying that a Swedish official should not have taken charge of such a high-profile game.
However, the manager did maintain that Eriksson had a "different criteria" for refereeing City and Barcelona, although the club moved later in the day to claim that this was a language misunderstanding by the Chilean.
After Tuesday's defeat at the Etihad Stadium, Pellegrini also stated that Eriksson was compensating for perceived mistakes when refereeing a previous Champions League game involving Barça.
Pellegrini said: "When you lose a game the way we lost, you are frustrated, angry. Maybe I say some things I didn't mean in that way so I apologise. I want to clarify what I said, I didn't make any serious accusations, not to the referee, to Uefa. I say the referee decided the match because he didn't give us a foul against [Jesús] Navas and after came the penalty against Martín Demichelis and we had one player sent off.
"I said a couple of weeks ago refereeing is a very difficult profession because they have only have a fraction of a second. The second thing that is also not the way, I think, is to say because he was always refereeing in the Swedish league that maybe it was better for so important a game to have another kind of referee. It is not an offence to Sweden or the Swedish people or referees. I didn't say any serious accusation about Sweden, just that it was not the most important league in Europe and that is not an offence, I think.
"The third thing I said was that it was not a good idea that a referee that damaged Barcelona against Milan [at San Siro in 2012] referee the game. Because if the same thing happens in the Barcelona box and Barcelona lose the game 1-0 with that penalty and one player sent off, all around Barcelona they will say the same referee who made that mistake against Milan did it again against Barcelona. It is my idea. I am not in charge of referees. I think it is important managers do what they have to do, the referees do what they have to do and the staff in charge of deciding the referees do what they have to do. "
Asked about the "not impartial" comment, Pellegrini said: "I felt from the beginning his criteria was not the same for both teams. But I didn't say that intentionally he didn't give fouls for us or did give fouls for Barcelona. I said from the beginning it was not the same criteria. I repeat, a bad day, not dishonest."
Pellegrini was challenged that stating Eriksson had a different criteria for each side sounded the same as saying he had failed to be impartial. "Maybe it was what I felt," the manager said. "Maybe I am wrong but I do not have a doubt about the honesty of the referee. I don't think that is the same thing. For me it is different."
He denied he would prefer a referee from a nation that has a stronger league for the second leg against Barcelona on 12 March. "I repeat, all the referees who are on the Uefa staff, it is because they are very good referees."
Demichelis drew criticism for his display, but Pellegrini backed him. "He is a very important player," he said. "I don't talk about those things first of all because the game is over and we have to try to qualify by beating Barcelona over there, we know its difficult but we are going to try.
"After the game everyone analyses, because they have an opinion but I have opinion and I'm not going into an explanation for every player."