Pep Guardiola has hit out at the scheduling demands made by the Premier League, claiming that the organisation isn’t interested in player wellbeing when drawing up its plans.
Manchester City, who have all but fallen out of contention to retain their title, host Sheffield United on Sunday just 40 hours after a 3-2 defeat at Wolves left their championship hopes in tatters.
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The Premier League has long been accused of over-stretching players with its punishing winter schedule, exposing teams to intense fixture congestion when most European leagues embark on a mid-season break.
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“I don’t have any confidence about that. They don’t care,” Guardiola said, when asked if he would like to see the Premier League change and look at player welfare.
“In the first season it was the same, we played at Anfield and two days later with Burnley at home.
“My words are not going to change anything, Jose [Mourinho] and Jurgen [Klopp] have said the same. Every season is the same, TV decides and we have to adapt.
“I have to evaluate the players and how they feel. We have to put fresh legs on. I honestly don’t know how they are going to recover and how they feel, we’ll see.”
Guardiola has seen his team fall down the Premier League table this term after winning back-to-back titles, with Friday’s defeat leaving them 14 points off the pace and facing a battle with second-place Leicester City to take the runners-up spot.
Having set such a high bar in recent years, Guardiola concedes City have failed to hit those same heights this season and must look to salvaging their season.
“The club has made incredible steps with different managers and players and have sustained that,” Guardiola said. “In 10 years they have won four Premier Leagues which isn’t bad.
“We were incredible for two seasons and in this competition we have lost more in the league than in the previous two seasons. You have to analyse and move forward.”
After facing Sheffield on Sunday, City will host Everton on New Year’s Day before backing up three days later in the FA Cup third round against Port Vale.