Pep Guardiola has claimed he had a premonition that Manchester City would be knocked out of the Carabao Cup after a shocking 2-0 loss in the quarter-finals against Premier League Southampton.
Halftime goals from Saints pair Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo stunned the eight-time winners in an extraordinary evening at St Mary’s.
Guardiola kicked off once again with Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne on the bench ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
However, the decision backfired as they were unable to prevent City from being knocked out after coming out of the bench in the second period, unlike on Sunday when the influential couple was not needed in a massive 4-0 FA Cup win over Chelsea.
Manager Guardiola felt that whatever team he chose, Premier League champions were destined to fight on the south coast.
He said: “Who knows, it would have been different if it had been Kevin and Erling? I don’t know.
“We tried our best and when we played against Chelsea after the Premier League we changed the team and that’s good.
“I understand how this thing works. We always try to include everyone and everyone has to do that, but that wasn’t the case today.
“I felt that no matter what squad I chose today, we performed that way. Don’t ask me why. That’s my experience.
“It doesn’t matter which squad we choose today, because we weren’t here. That’s why they deserve it when it happens.”
City started the game as strong favourites, but failed to record a field goal attempt for 90 minutes.
Struggling with weak teams, Southampton will face Newcastle in their first League Cup semi-final after finishing second in 2017.
“The best team won,” continued Guardiola. “They were better. We had a bad night and we didn’t play well.
“We didn’t perform well and to win games – not to mention titles – you have to deserve it.
“When I win something, I want to deserve it and that wasn’t the case today, so Southampton deserves to be in the semi-finals.
“It wasn’t even close to what we are today.”
France Under-21 striker Mara swept the middle of Lyanco to get her first Southampton goal in the 23rd minute, after which Djenepo quickly doubled the advantage in a speculative effort from distance catching City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.
Starting his reign with four consecutive Premier League losses, coach Nathan Jones felt the outstanding result answered some of his critics, including Havant & Waterlooville manager Paul Doswell, a Saints fan who questioned his recent appointment.
“I’m really happy with the performance,” Jones said. “I thought we were perfect as a team.
“We were aggressive, we were organized, we went after the game, it wasn’t a shot and a snatch.
“I’m proud of the players and the coaching staff. I’ve had people calling out to me, even non-league managers calling me saying I’m not good enough.
“It’s a proud moment for me. It’s great to be on the same level as him (Guardiola), I’ve worked very, very hard for this over my 33-year career.
“I believed I earned the right to be here. It doesn’t really affect me if people think I’m good enough because I’ve been questioned at every level I’ve been and I like to respond.
“It’s been tough, but as a manager you get paid for that.”