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Players have ‘one eye on the World Cup’ already – Pep Guardiola

by John Ocholi

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has spoken of a “crazy” match schedule that is “too much” for players as the mid-season World Cup 2022 approaches.

City on Wednesday host Chelsea in the third round of the Carabao Cup, their penultimate game before the World Cup in Qatar that runs from November 20 to December 18.

The Carabao Cup fourth round is scheduled for the week commencing December 19, and the Premier League then returns with fixtures on Boxing Day, with City set to play Leeds two days later.

Guardiola was asked at his pre-match press conference prior to the Chelsea tie if he felt it was “a bit ridiculous” to have the next round being played so soon after the World Cup.

And he said: “What can I say? Everyone agrees with the word that you used. And (you have to) adapt.

“A long time ago I accepted what it is. In Germany they start January 20, their first game after the World Cup. We start on December 26. I don’t know when the games against Spurs and Arsenal will be scheduled.

“It is what it is. Better not to think about it, play tomorrow’s game and try to win it – that’s the best way. No complaints, and go.

“If they decide to put a game in that stage, just right after (the World Cup), and we (don’t) have international, World Cup players, OK we will play with the academy. When we arrive there, we’ll see what is the situation.”

When Guardiola was then asked about the potential impact of the season on players and if it might not be seen until later in the campaign, he said: “I think the target of all the clubs will be the amount of energy you spend in the training sessions to be perfect.

“I have the feeling that it will be just recover the players, recover the players, recover the players, to the next game, the next game, the next game. It’s crazy, it’s a lot of games. For the players, it’s too much.”

He added: “Look how many injuries already have been done before the World Cup – and after, nobody knows. I have the feeling that we have to pay attention a lot to how the players feel after the World Cup, in March, April, when we arrive in the last stages.”

Guardiola said he had listened, when he was boss at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, to managers in England “complain about the schedules, the schedules, the schedules” and that “nothing changed”, adding: “We have 20 teams, we have one more cup. We have in this schedule a crazy World Cup, and the players don’t rest. I will rest but the players don’t rest.”

He also said he was sure players at the moment had “one eye on the World Cup” while playing for their clubs.

Guardiola said: “For example, right now: the game tomorrow, against Brentford (on Saturday) – the players (have) one eye on the World Cup.

“You have an injury against Brentford – it’s not going to change anything in terms of winning the Premier League or not, but ‘I’m going to miss the World Cup’. How am I going to play? What am I going to do? Maybe I would be alert.

“I have to tell the guys be focused, try to do it, to do it – one month ago, OK, but now it’s there, it’s around the corner.

“So we play Saturday, and Saturday night they fly because on Sunday they have to be with the national team, and I’m pretty sure that will be a little bit in their minds. I would be the same.

“But the schedule is the schedule, the calendar is the calendar, you have to adapt and nothing is going to change. We have to do it, go and that’s all. Nothing is going to change.”


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