Pep Guardiola has expressed sympathy for Patrick Vieira following Crystal Palace’s ruthless decision to axe their now former manager.
The Eagles are in the midst of a 12-game winless run and were plunged deeper into relegation trouble following Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at arch-rivals Brighton.
Vieira enjoyed a successful first season at Selhurst Park, transforming a team that had gone stale under the management of veteran Roy Hodgson, but he has been unable to build on that momentum.
The 46-year-old was dismissed on Friday morning ahead of this weekend’s game against his former club Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Palace will be hoping for the same ‘new manager bounce’ Everton enjoyed when they tasted victory against the Gunners in Sean Dyche’s first game in charge last month, but Guardiola is unsure whether or not Vieira’s dismissal will trigger an immediate improvement in the Eagles’ form.
‘I’m so sorry for Patrick Viera, I don’t know the reason why but new opportunities wait around the corner,’ said the City manager. ‘(But) I don’t even think about how that affects their game against Arsenal.’
Mikel Arteta’s side will be looking to bounce back from last night’s shock Europa League exit at the hands of Sporting Lisbon and take advantage of City’s involvement in the FA Cup this weekend.
Arsenal can move eight points clear of the champions, albeit having played an extra game, with victory against Palace but Guardiola insists the world’s oldest domestic cup competition will still prove a pleasant distraction.
He said: ‘We have an important game, the FA Cup is a nice and important competition. We are in the quarter finals, one step from the semi finals at Wembley.
‘After’ everyone travels with their national teams. I don’t think we will watch the game but of course we will know the result but I have said many times they will do what they have to do and we will do our job.’
Blocking City’s route to Wembley, meanwhile, is another of Guardiola’s former charges, Vincent Kompany, whose Burnley side are within touching distance of promotion to the Premier League.
‘Everyone knows he was important,’ said Guardiola when asked about City’s totemic former skipper. ‘He’s one of the biggest legends I had and personally I pity that sometimes he was injured.
‘The important thing is how he helped me as a manager, he always helped the team and said the things he thought was best for the club. He was an exceptional captain, a top human being and I’m really pleased for him.
‘When you start to share a touchline with players you coached, it’s a realisation to how old you are! But of course we want to win and we’ll take it seriously.’