Pep Guardiola took another shot at UEFA over its expanded Champions League format, claiming European football’s governing body does not care about player workloads.
Guardiola came out strongly against the ill-fated Super League plans this week, decrying the closed-shop format as “not sport”, despite Manchester City being one of the 12 teams to sign up before withdrawing.
But the City boss also said the launch of a breakaway project was evidence UEFA had “failed” and he was similarly uncomplimentary about reforms that will see the Champions League contested by 36 teams as opposed to its current 32 from the 2024-25 season, with 10 group games instead of six for each side.
“Every time it’s the same. All the managers and players ask for better quality and the football world goes for quantity,” Guardiola said ahead of Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Tottenham at Wembley.
“But we are not in charge of that. We have to ask UEFA and FIFA to extend the year, maybe have 400 days a year. Maybe then they can find a solution on that.”
City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan tweeted his opposition to the Champions League revamp, branding it “the lesser of two evils” when set against the Super League.
Guardiola feels the schedule for elite teams is already at breaking point, claiming he has been unable to undertake significant tactical and coaching work with the Premier League leaders throughout a compacted 2020-21 calendar.
With all the Super League stuff going on… can we please also speak about the new Champions League format? More and more and more games, is no one thinking about us players?
The new UCL format is just the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League…
— Ilkay Gündogan (@IlkayGuendogan) April 22, 2021
“Every season is the same and, at the end of the day, the players they play because they love to play, but the injuries come,” he said.
“UEFA knows that, of course they know it. Do they care? Absolutely not. They put on more games and more competitions to do it.
“And we are going to play of course. We are lucky. We are going to be in the Champions League next season, we are going to play this competition, but it’s a lot, honestly.
“We didn’t have one midweek off. So you cannot train. I cannot train, I’m not a manager, I cannot train. I do not train. We just handle the team, make them as sharp as possible and the best as possible.
“I cannot train anything. It’s just videos, and just [telling the players to] remember what we have to do. We don’t have time in the pre-season to make the principles.
“We cannot forget that we started the season against Wolves without one friendly game. We didn’t have a friendly to prepare. Since then we didn’t have one midweek off. As a manager, yes, we had the international break, but the players went to national teams for three games in six or seven or 10 days.
“It’s crazy, but every time we speak about that, when we go to UEFA meetings, we talk about that and they say, ‘Yes, yes, well done. We take note’.
“But then we play more games, and next season we will create a new competition for the guys not in the Champions League or the Europa League [the Europa Conference League]. They will play a new competition, yes, another one.”
Despite there being plenty of praise for UEFA over how it handled football’s crisis this week, Guardiola for one is not screaming “encore”.
“It’s a lot,” he reiterated. “It’s like an actor or an actress in the theatre making three shows a day. They don’t enjoy it. Once a day they like it, to go on stage and make a good performance. But three times a day is too much.”
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