Guardiola hits out at ‘unsustainable’ schedule as injuries mount
London — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes some competitions in English football must be scrapped to protect the welfare of players and increase the quality of matches.
City faced Sheffield United away on Tuesday night in the Premier League in their 17th match in 59 days since the last international break in November.
Serious injuries to Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford that could have an impact on England’s chances at Euro 2020 have highlighted the issue and Guardiola believes the status quo is “unsustainable”.
“The players arrive at the Euros, trying their best with their national teams then they are back here after no more than 20 days’ rest because the show must go on. It’s unsustainable,” Guardiola said.
“I’m sorry for Kane and Rashford because they are good for the league, but we demand a lot from the players. It’s too much.
“They [the Premier League] should reflect on it but all the managers complained about it and they don’t care.”
The pressure is on England’s football authorities to at least remove replays from the third and fourth round of the FA Cup and scrap the two-legged format of the League Cup semifinals.
City are still involved in both domestic cup competitions, as well as the Champions League, and have a minimum of 19 games left this season.
“You have to eliminate competitions,” said Guardiola. “Take them out completely, so less games, less teams, less quantity and more quality.”
Guardiola also joined Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in ridiculing the idea of expanding the Champions League from 2024 onwards.
“The solution you have is to make a year of 400 days — then we can book in another competition,” he said sarcastically.
For the first time this season, every club in the Premier League will have a two-week break in February, but Guardiola believes that comes too late after a gruelling festive period.
“The big administration people cannot complain because it’s normal this happens,” he added.
“Look at the injuries we have had, all the teams have had. That is normal. With that number of games, players break down. I’m not surprised, I am so sorry for them.”