Football News

Kane and Rashford are victims of English football’s “unsustainable” demands, says Pep Guardiola

By Harry Edwards

Published: 10:24, 22 January 2020 | Updated: 10:24, 5 February 2020

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has called for England to drop one of its cup competitions in order to put less pressure on its players.

A big part of the English football calendar is the festive period where fans can accompany their Christmas celebrations with football from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day with very little space in between matches.

While fans are often left satisfied by the football on show, it can have a negative impact on the players and teams. Newcastle are one such example with the Magpies seeing injuries occurring far too often in recent weeks, including two season-ending problems for Paul Dummett and Jetro Willems.

Should England get rid of a cup competition? Five things to know…

  • Premier League sides currently play in three domestic competitions.
  • On top of the league, they also participate in the FA Cup and League Cup.
  • France is the only other of Europe’s top five nations to have a secondary cup competition, but have chosen to scrap it as of 2020/21.
  • Pep Guardiola has called for England to scrap one of their cup competitions.
  • The Spaniard believes England’s intense fixture schedule is the reason behind there being so many injuries.

Teams in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup suffer even more with the addition of the first leg coming just days after the FA Cup third round, meaning the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Leicester City have to face six games within 17 or 18 days from Boxing Day onwards.

United have felt the impact of this recently, with Marcus Rashford expected to be out for at least six weeks after picking up a back injury as a result of playing 13 games from the start of December to January 15.

He joins fellow Englishman Harry Kane on the sidelines, with the Tottenham Hotspur striker out with a hamstring injury that will see both he and Rashford miss England’s international friendlies in March.

And Guardiola believes the FA can have no complaints about the absences as they have come as a result of the congested schedule.

“I’m not surprised (by recent injuries),” Guardiola told reporters. “With that number of games, players break down. That is normal.

“Kane and Rashford are incredibly important players for England. The big administrators cannot complain because it’s normal that this happens.

“It is unsustainable. We demand a lot from the players, it’s too much. We told them when we are with the Premier League. They should reflect (on) it but all the managers complained about it and they don’t care.

“Eliminate competitions, take them out. Less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. In the Bundesliga, there are 18 teams, not 20, one cup not two. In Spain, they have a break.

“The fans will go to the theatre, to the cinema, restaurants. People can live without football for a while — that is not a problem. It is too much.”

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Guardiola questions use of Premier League “mid-season” break

The 2019/20 campaign is the first where Premier League sides will be given a “mid-season” break of two weeks to help with fatigue, though it isn’t as simple as that.

Instead of all 20 teams taking their break at the same time, there will be four Premier League matches on the first weekend of the break on February 8 and six the following week. And Guardiola thinks this is a strange idea.

“We are going to rest in February for one week but then we have 72 games in one week so it’s a bit strange. But the people thought about that,” he added.

“The players arrive at the Euros, playing with the national teams trying their best, then (back here) after no more than 20 days because the business, the show, must go on.

“The players suffer. They want to do well and the clubs have a lot of pressure to win or qualify for the Champions League. We push and push. The body says stop, it’s enough.”