Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that some players are no longer enjoying football because of the unrelenting schedule of the 2020/21 season.
With the previous campaign being delayed because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020/21 season has been condensed into a shorter period, with the club’s competing in Europe often forced to play matches every three days.
The high intensity of the past few months has led to countless injuries and even more complaints from managers, and Guardiola has now suggested that players are finding it hard to enjoy themselves because they’re constantly exhausted.
“The problem is the players lose the joy of playing football,” Guardiola said (via the Daily Mail) when asked if his side planned to celebrate Saturday’s 5-0 win over Burnley.
“Before it was nice playing once or twice a week with spectators. Now it’s three days and then another one. We will travel to Porto to win, then prepare against Fulham.”
Even though Guardiola won’t have much time to celebrate, he will no doubt be delighted with the victory, in which City finally looked like their free-flowing, dominant selves for the first time this season.
They had scored just ten goals in the Premier League before Saturday’s game, but a hat-trick from Riyad Mahrez and goals from Ferran Torres and Benjamin Mendy put an end to that tricky run of form.
It was the kind of performance which Guardiola expects on a regular basis, and he warned his forwards that they must maintain that level if they want to avoid sitting on the bench.
“It’s not about rotation now,” he added. “The players who don’t make mistakes – like John Stones in defence – deserve to play more games.
“The goals today helps us, of course – especially for Riyad Mahrez. Gabriel Jesus has to score goals. [Raheem] Sterling when he plays has to score. They have to score more goals. That is why they are here. It depends on the player, their performance on the pitch.”
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