Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes the busy Premier League festive schedule is going to “kill” players.
Guardiola claimed that the two-day gap between his side’s New Year’s Eve draw at Crystal Palace and the 3-1 win against Watford at the Etihad Stadium was “not normal”.
With Kyle Walker ending the homematch clutching his right thigh in what could be another case of personnel loss in recent weeks for City, Guardiola cited the injury as evidence of the demands of this time of the season.
“He might have a little problem — what everyone saw in the last weeks is how many injuries the players have,” Guardiola said. “We are going to kill them. The bosses have to reflect. It’s not normal to play 31st and two days later.”
“I know the show must go on but that is not normal, they have to control it. They don’t protect the players, they are the people we come to watch – not the managers or the press conferences. Here in England you don’t protect the players, you have to look for the quality not the quantity.”
“Of course space them [the matches] out. I’m not saying change Boxing Day [games]. But you cannot play at 12 at Selhurst Park but are thinking about the game two days later. It’s not basketball or tennis — the players need recovery.”
“Just see how many muscular injuries there are. We have a lot of people here [at City] to take care of them, but the schedule does not protect the player. I think the schedule will always happen because of the tradition but think about the players – they are artists.”
In addition to the injury list is Gabriel Jesus, who injured a knee in the previous game against Palace. Guardiola said that the Brazilian forward will be out four to six weeks or “maybe a little longer.”
Meanwhile, key playmaker David Silva returned to the City squad after two games out owing to personal issues, but Guardiola added that he may miss more matches.
“We are very happy David is back, we don’t know how long but he made another exhibition – he’s essential, he showed how important he is for us. He’s free to stay or leave, it depends. He wants to stay because he enjoys it but family is the most important thing in life. It doesn’t matter if we drop a lot of points, I’d never push him. Some days he will be here, some he will be out, it depends how his family is.”