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Thursday 14 November 2019

Pep short on festive cheer

City boss blasts unfair schedule as broadcasters call the shots

Pep Guardiola is unhappy that players aren’t being protected in the Christmas programme
Pep Guardiola is unhappy that players aren’t being protected in the Christmas programme

Pep Guardiola claims his Manchester City side's revised Christmas schedule is unfair on his players.

However, the City manager insists the Premier League champions will get on and play their games without complaining.

It was announced on Thursday that, due to TV scheduling, City will kick off against Sheffield United on December 29 just 44 hours after the final whistle in their game against Wolves on December 27.

"Since I came here every season it's happened the same. The broadcasters are the bosses in this situation," Guardiola said.

"I love to play on Boxing Days, when everybody is stopped and families, kids go into the stadium and enjoy the game. I like it.

"But the problem is the same. We don't protect the players, the system doesn't protect the players. It is too much, honestly, it is too much."

Looking at the positives, Guardiola did point out that his side will now have a longer rest after their clash with Leicester on December 21, as the Wolves fixture was originally planned for St Stephen's Day.

"We will have more recovery than the other ones, so it is what it is. It doesn't matter. We have to play, so we're going to play."

City travel to Crysal Palace today with an opportunity to cut Liverpool's lead at the top of the table to five points. The Reds are not in action until they face Manchester United tomorrow.

City were beaten by Wolves in their last outing and, having lost a match to Palace last season, Guardiola is wary.

"Since Roy Hodgson took over the team two years ago, with zero points, and he helped avoid relegation, they have always made really good seasons," he added

"They have incredibly talented players, physical and experienced guys, a lot of talent in the middle and up front."

Guardiola has respect for the much-travelled former England boss Roy Hodgson, who at 72, is 24 years his senior.

He said: "Of course I admire him. It is because he likes it and of course this one club trusts him. If he is still there it is because he has the passion and he likes it.

"It is incredible, 72 years old. You've got to have a lot of energy to convince the players, every day, to be there and he does that."

City have already lost twice in the Premier League this season but Guardiola has no plans to change his formula.

Speaking at a press conference, the Catalan said: "Every season is completely different, every situation is different, so results right now going bad are not going to change - for any second - my opinion on my team.

"I know exactly what we have to do to come back and to be a team like we want to be. But it is the past and now how to be focused to to try to increase our game and play to win games."

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