PEP GUARDIOLA always feared it could come down to a survival of the fittest.
Yet the Manchester City boss surely believed it would take a little longer than two weeks to be proved correct.
Pep Guardiola’s worst fears regarding a player burn out are started to come to fruitionCredit: PA:Press Association
Guardiola was not the only one to warn the players faced burn-out, given the added demands on an already tight-as-cramp schedule.
Now, without Gabriel Jesus for up to six weeks, Bernardo Silva on the list of walking wounded, and Sergio Aguero still far from a return, he has come out fighting.
Guardiola was speaking for every club when he said: “No one cares about the players.”
City and neighbours United were given a week’s grace before their campaign began, as their European exploits meant they only finished the previous one in mid-August.
Yet international calls meant a pre-season of less than three weeks for many — and the fall-out has already started.
Guardiola added: “It is not just Manchester City it is all the clubs, all the countries. Nobody cares for the players.
“This is a business and we are part of the business, but we want to do it as best as possible for ourselves and for the fans unfortunately watching at home.
“But for a long time now we have had this. So for the players, the pre-season was one or two weeks and then you have to play every three days for 11 months.
“I understand this is an exceptional situation. For the restaurants, cinemas, the theatres, museums, shopping, for everything.
Gabriel Jesus has been ruled out for six weeks through injuryCredit: Getty
“Everyone is struggling, so we are not exceptional in this. But we had three players come back from the international duty and they were injured and we cannot control this. They let them play without preparation, two games in three or four days.
“In the end they are not machines but we demand a lot of them, and sometimes the muscles break down.”
Guardiola goes into today’s clash with Leicester missing both his spearhead strikers in Jesus and Aguero.
Even though his squad is packed with stars, it means 17-year-old Liam Delap could feature again, just three days after making his debut.
There is no immediate let-up to the schedule either, no chance for weary limbs to get some much-needed rest.
City have Wednesday’s Carabao Cup fourth-round trip to Burnley, most will be involved in the next set of international fixtures in a fortnight, and the next European campaign is just around the corner.
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There is no doubt if he still had the chance, Guardiola would be tearing his hair out.
He said: “Every association — the Premier League, Uefa, Fifa, the Carabao Cup — they defend their own business and their position, so you have to play every competition.
“With the international teams, the federations need to play games for qualification for the Euros, the World Cup because it’s Uefa and Fifa’s responsibility to organise their own tournaments.
“They need the players and the situation is exceptional — everyone understands that.
“But we had 11 months playing incredible games, then the players had two or three weeks and had to come back and play another season.”
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