Club World Cup a ‘privilege’ for Man City despite workload concerns: Guardiola
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP)— Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said the European champions are privileged to be in Saudi Arabia, aiming to win the Club World Cup for the first time, despite raising concerns over an expanded version of the competition.
After winning the Champions League for the first time in June, Guardiola is aiming to “close the circle” by completing his trophy haul in charge of the English champions.
City face Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the semi-finals on Tuesday with the winners facing either Egypt’s Al Ahly or Fluminense of Brazil in Friday’s final.
“It’s Manchester City’s first time here and it is a pleasure to be here,” Guardiola told a pre-match press conference in Jeddah.
“We take it as a privilege, it’s an honour to be here. To be sitting here and play tomorrow means you have done something exceptional in the past. We have to take it, play a game tomorrow and deserve to be in the final.”
FIFA confirmed changes to the format of the Club World Cup on Sunday that will see the competition expanded to 32 teams from 2025 and spread across nearly a month from June 15 to July 13 in the United States.
Guardiola has previously expressed concern over the welfare of his players with extra matches being crammed into both the club and international calendar.
After winning the treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup last season, City’s players had barely three weeks off before beginning pre-season training with a tour to Asia.
“I am not against new competitions. I am against the lack of time to recover between year by year. This is what I’m complaining about,” added Guardiola.
“For me it doesn’t matter to play every three days, six days, seven days, it is ok. But it is really, really tough to finish the season and in three weeks you have to restart again and go to Asia to be financially stable all the clubs, or go to States, or wherever.
“It’s really tough for myself, but especially for the players and I think this should change. But how do we change when you finish the season and go for 15 or 20 days to the States to play another competition? This is the problem.”
City midfielder Bernardo Silva played 67 games for club and country last season.
The Portuguese international supported the new format to the Club World Cup, but believes it is fans who will ultimately suffer from watching less intense and lower quality matches due to the load put on players.
“We’re not consulted but we try to do our job, which is to represent our clubs and national teams. The people that pay our salaries and the fans that support us every day,” said Silva.
“The reality is the number of games we have nowadays and even more with the new competitions is a bit crazy. The (lack of) rest that players get and the risk of injuries go up.
“We cannot complain because we earn a lot of money but in my opinion for the people that love the game and are entertained by the game, if we have so many games for so long, in the end the games will lose the energy and intensity.
“The new Club World Cup is a top competition, it will be very nice to fight for that title in two years, so no complaints. But the charge we have nowadays makes it complicated for us to be fit all the time and play well all the time.
“All of us feel tired for some games because we play every three days with no rest. We have no Christmas, no summer almost, but that is the price you pay for playing for a top club, fighting for all the competitions. In the end our dream was to play at this level.”