Belfast Telegraph

Pep laments fixture congestion as injuries pile up

 

By Matt McGeechan

Pep Guardiola has told the Premier League organisers that they are in danger of 'killing' players if they persist with busy schedules over the Christmas period.

The Manchester City manager saw his side play two games in the space of three days, drawing away at Crystal Palace on New Year's Eve before comfortably beating Watford on 2 January.

Kyle Walker, the City full-back, appeared to pick up a groin injury during the late stages of Wednesday's 3-1 win and Guardiola attributed it to the festive fixture pile-up that has affected some top-flight clubs more than others.

"We are going to check it out, he might have a little problem," the City manager said of Walker's injury, before taking aim at the busy schedule.

"What everyone saw in the last weeks, how many injuries the players have. We are going to kill them. The bosses have to reflect."

The City manager added: "It's not normal to play 31st and two days later. I know the show must go on, the manager is here or another one, that is not normal, they have to control it.

"They don't protect the players, they are the people come to watch, not the managers or the press conferences, or us.

"Here in England you don't protect the players, you have to look for the quality or not the quantity."

Guardiola does not believe that English football's tradition of Christmas fixtures should be scrapped, but claimed that games should at least be spread further out to allow for more rest and recovery. "Of course, space them out," he said. "I'm not saying change Boxing Day, but you cannot play at 12.00pm at Selhurst Park and celebrate New Year's Eve when thinking about the game two days later.

"People say it's impossible, it's not basketball or tennis, the players need recovery.

"Just see how many players have muscular injuries.

"The show must go on but the schedule does not protect the players.

"I think it's going to happen because the tradition is there but think about the players, they are artists."

Despite his concerns, the Spaniard was still delighted with how his team performed in their 3-1 win over the Hornets last night.

"We played really well. After dropping two points, we spoke about our reaction because big teams drop points but not too much.

"Watford scored because they have good players.

"We will review the action but people can not expect us to win 7-0 every time."

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