Man City’s Pep Guardiola urges reform amid growing fixture pressure on players

Pep Guardiola has called for change as the fixture burden on players continues to increase.

The Manchester City manager was speaking in light of FIFA’s decision to expand the Club World Cup to a 32-team tournament from 2025.

Guardiola insists he is not against the new event in principle – and City are already guaranteed a place – but he feels something has to give somewhere to ease the workload on players.

The Spaniard told reporters at a press conference: “I am not against the new competitions. I am against the lack of time to recover from year to year.

“This is what I am complaining (about) all the time. For me it doesn’t matter to play every three days, six days, seven days. It is OK.

“But it is really tough to finish the season and then in three weeks restart again and go to Asia, to be financially stable, or the States. That is really, really tough, for ourselves and especially for the players. For myself, things should change. This is my point.

“But how do you change when (after) you finish the season, you go to the States to play another competition? This is the problem.”

Guardiola was speaking in Saudi Arabia, where Champions League winners City are preparing for this year’s edition of the Club World Cup.

They face Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds, the Asian champions, in their semi-final in Jeddah on Tuesday.

“It’s a pleasure to be here, it’s an honour,” said Guardiola.

“It’s the first time Man City are here. That shows how difficult it is. We won’t take it for granted. We take it as a privilege.

“Of course we want to win it. It is a trophy we don’t have. We want to close a little circle, that we have won all the trophies we could do. This is the last one.”

Midfielder Bernardo Silva admitted the schedule facing players at the top level was difficult but was not complaining.

The Portuguese said: “We were not consulted but we try to do our jobs, to represent our clubs the best possible way, and the people that pay our salaries and the fans that support us.

“The reality is the amount of games we have nowadays, and even more with the new competitions, if you look at it, it is a bit crazy because of the rest that players get and the risk of injury is up quite a lot.

“At the end 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 this many games for so long, at the end the games will lose the energy and the intensity.”

City again seem likely to be without striker Erling Haaland, who has missed the last three games with a foot injury. Kevin De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku are also with the squad as they near returns to action but they are not expected to play.