EPL

Guardiola concerned over player welfare following festive fixture changes

By Sports Desk October 18, 2019

Pep Guardiola admitted "the broadcasters are the bosses" in response to Manchester City's rearranged festive fixture list - but again called for players to receive greater protection amid punishing schedules.

City were initially set to travel to Wolves on Boxing Day but that game has been pushed back by 24 hours for live coverage, with the Sheffield United home game moved to December 29.

Still, they have less than 48 hours of rest between those two fixtures - with the reigning Premier League champions then starting 2020 by hosting Everton on January 1.

While a fan of playing during the Christmas period, a custom that he has become used to since moving to England, Guardiola fears the desire to squeeze in so many matches is a major concern.

He used the example of Neymar - who suffered a hamstring injury while playing for Brazil in a friendly against Nigeria last week, ruling him out for up to four weeks - as an example of the risks of playing too often.

Asked for his thoughts about City's fixture changes announced this week, Guardiola told the media: "It is what it is. Since I came here, every season it happened the same.

"The broadcasters are the bosses in this situation. I love to play Boxing Day and winter time when everybody stops, when families and kids go the stadiums and enjoy the games. I like it.

"The problem is the same. So now Neymar is injured again, but they travel for friendly games in Nigeria or Abu Dhabi, or wherever far away, then come back.

"We don't protect the players – the system doesn't protect them. It's too much. Honestly, it's too much."

Guardiola was speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace - a game that could see both Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones return from injury.

While stopping short of confirming the duo will be available to feature at Selhurst Park, the City boss was upbeat over their outlook.

"Some of them are better. Kevin is back and John trained in the last two days and is good," he said. "[Benjamin] Mendy as well, maybe later, but as well."

Sergio Aguero was involved in a minor car crash in midweek, but Guardiola had positive news on the striker's status: "He is fine. The car is not fine."

Related items

  • Southgate: Sterling tweet brought closure to Gomez incident Southgate: Sterling tweet brought closure to Gomez incident

    England manager Gareth Southgate believes Raheem Sterling's public message of support for Joe Gomez has drawn a line under a tumultuous week.

    Sterling and Gomez became embroiled in a media storm following a bust-up at the beginning of the international break.

    Southgate dropped Manchester City star Sterling for Friday's Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Montenegro, a match partially overshadowed by the boos that greeted Liverpool defender Gomez upon his second-half introduction at Wembley.

    The "upsetting experience" for Gomez, as Southgate termed it, prompted Sterling to issue a social media statement accepting "full responsibility" for the spat and defending his team-mate.

    An eventful few days took another unexpected turn on Saturday when Gomez pulled out of the squad due to a minor knee problem, but the Three Lions boss now hopes to move forward without further scrutiny of squad harmony. 

    "You couldn't make it up, really, if you tried," Southgate said of Gomez's injury, which rules him out of Sunday's game against Kosovo.

    "He's absolutely fine. He took a clash of knees [on Friday]. We scanned it just to be certain and I think he'll be fine in a couple of days, but he wasn't able to train."

    Southgate continued: "We actually ended up having a chuckle this morning at the ridiculousness of him having to go home in the way he did.

    "It's been a difficult week for him but one that will make him stronger and one that he's dealt with really well.

    "I think now is a good moment for him just to go home for a couple of days, clear his head. The pleasing thing for me is that we've got him back on the pitch.

    "I think the fact that Raheem put out the tweet that he did the other night was real closure on that whole incident.

    "We get Raheem back on the pitch [against Kosovo]. We won the match on Thursday and we can now just look forward."

    England have already sealed Euro 2020 qualification leading into Sunday's final Group A fixture in Pristina.

    Southgate will reportedly hand goalkeeper Nick Pope his first international start, while Callum Hudson-Odoi could replace Jadon Sancho in attack.

  • Rumour Has It: Mourinho monitoring Tottenham situation Rumour Has It: Mourinho monitoring Tottenham situation

    Could Jose Mourinho find a new home at a third Premier League club?

    According to one report, the ex-Chelsea and Manchester United manager is keeping a close eye on Tottenham and the uncertainty that lingers over Mauricio Pochettino's future.

    The potential of a job opening in north London might even lead to him turning down a big-name former employer.

     

    TOP STORY – MOURINHO SETS SIGHTS ON SPURS

    Jose Mourinho has told friends he is "confident" of being offered a return to Real Madrid but may hold out for the Tottenham job, according to The Sun.

    Zinedine Zidane is in his second stint in charge of Madrid, while Mauricio Pochettino has spent more than five years at the Spurs helm.

    The report suggests it is the latter position that Mourinho covets more, meaning he "would not necessarily accept" another spell in the Spanish capital.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Manchester United could launch a January move for Gareth Bale, reports The Sun. According to the newspaper, Real Madrid know of United's interest in Wales winger Bale and would be happy to let him leave the Santiago Bernabeu, providing they can do a deal that involves Paul Pogba moving in the other direction.

    - Spanish outlet ElDesmarque reports news that could complicate any Bale-Pogba exchange, stating that although Madrid are indeed keen on France playmaker Pogba, so too are the player's former club Juventus, with Cristiano Ronaldo said to be supportive.

    Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be United's strongest rivals for Jadon Sancho and the Ligue 1 side could make a surprise play for another England international. The Mirror claims PSG are interested in poaching Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana on a free transfer. His contract is due to expire in 2020.

    - Premier League champions Manchester City will look to sign Kingsley Coman from Bayern Munich if Leroy Sane agrees on a move to the Bundesliga giants, according to Sky Sports. Coman, 23, joined Bayern from Juve in 2015, initially on loan.

    - Mainz are seeking a new head coach and the Bundesliga club are reported to be targeting former Cologne boss Achim Beierlorzer. Kicker reports Mainz want a new face in charge by early next week, and Beierlorzer is said to be in the frame. The club sit in the relegation zone after eight defeats in 11 games this term. Beierlorzer would be making a rapid return to bench duty if he lands the job, having left Cologne on November 9.

  • Low hails 'underrated' Germany goalscorer Ginter Low hails 'underrated' Germany goalscorer Ginter

    Joachim Low heaped praise on Matthias Ginter following his standout display in Germany's comfortable 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Belarus on Saturday.

    Borussia Monchengladbach star Ginter opened his international account with a deft flick at his club side's home stadium and later set up one of Toni Kroos' two goals.

    Still only 25, Ginter is already a veteran of two World Cup campaigns but has taken time to cement a regular spot in Low's plans.

    But after six starts in 2019 and with Niklas Sule sidelined by a long-term knee injury, the 29-cap centre-back looks set to be a big part of his nation's Euro 2020 assault.

    "A lot of people talked about Matthias Ginter during the week. He's a bit underrated," head coach Low said.

    "He's always performed well for the team. I know what to I can expect from him. Ginter is solid and has a very good first ball out of defence.

    "He's also improved defensively and is calm and reliable. You know what to expect, which is important for a coach. He doesn't have a lot of ups and downs.

    "I'm very happy for him that he scored a goal, and such a beautiful one."

    Leon Goretzka joined Ginter and Kroos on the scoresheet as Germany confirmed their Euro 2020 qualification.

    Manuel Neuer did have to keep out a second-half penalty from Igor Stasevich in order to preserve the home side's clean sheet, leaving Low aware of the work that still needs to be done.

    "I congratulated the players on securing qualification – that was our main goal," he said.

    "The team played really well. They combined well with one another. We were slightly sloppy after our third goal and have to be more clinical."

    Germany are now top of Group C going into Tuesday's final qualifier against third-placed Northern Ireland.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.