Pep Guardiola has accused football’s authorities of having a lack of ‘care’ for players welfare as he heads into Sunday’s game against Leicester with just 13 senior players available.
The delayed start to the 2020/21 campaign has left a gruelling schedule, with some players having played seven fixtures since the season kicked off earlier this month, with League, Carabao Cup and International games having already been squeezed in.
Manchester City face their third game of the season when they host Leicester on Sunday afternoon, and while saying he understands the business needs for the intense fixture list, Guardiola said that players welfare has not been considered.
“It is not just Manchester City, it is all the clubs and countries. Nobody cares for the players,” said Guardiola at his pre-match press conference. “It is a business, we are part of it and we want to do as good as possible for the people watching at home.
“For a long time, players will have one or two weeks pre-season and then have to play every three days for 11 months. now it is like this. We are not going to change anything saying the opposite. I understand now it is an exceptional situation for everyone- restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, shops – everything is exceptional and everyone is struggling.”
City will be without a whole host of senior players for the visit of Brendan Rodgers side to the Etihad, with Sergio Aguero – a long-term absentee – having been joined on the treatment table by Gabriel Jesus who has also picked up a muscle injury to leave the club light in attacking areas. Last season’s runners up are also set to be without Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko, with Guardiola concerned about the fitness of his players.
“We had three players come back from the national team injured,” Guardiola said. “We cannot control this. They let them play two games in three or four days’ time without preparation but [players] are not machines. We demand a lot and sometimes the muscles or whatever fall down. Hopefully sooner or later they are going to come back.
“We will help them recover to come back as soon as possible but the reality is what it is. Every association – Premier League, Fifa, Uefa, Carabao Cup – defends their own position and we are going to play every game in a good way until players come back.”