Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is refusing to recall his players back early in preparation for the Premier League opener with Arsenal, with some players due to return only six days before the trip to the Emirates.
Key players such as John Stones, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne were all playing in the semi-finals of the World Cup after a long yet impressive season with Man City, and it would be reasonable to expect them all to be in need of a break.
The fixture list will not have helped the situation, with the Community Shield against Chelsea coming on August the 5, shortly followed by a tough trip to Arsenal the following week, but Pep seems happy to allow his players to make their own decisions as per their fitness and mental readiness as he looks to defend his first Premier League title.
“We will start the season and the players are still playing for last season,” he said.
“I lived it in Barcelona, it happened in Munich as well. We have to adapt and control.
“Physically it’s not a problem but mentally they must be ready, how they come back and handle the situation, day by day.
“I’d have preferred more time, one month or one month and a half. So many games – but they have to adapt.”
The Spaniard has previously expressed his angst with the enduring English fixture list, but he is trying to downplay any issues with the news.
“It is what it is, we know because we spoke – they have to come back ready,” he said.
“If the days before they are tired and they want to fight for the Community Shield, play at Arsenal, or stay on holidays.
“We cannot forget what we’ve done but we start again, and if they are ready they’ll help us.
“We are here (in Chicago) with 16 or 17 from the academy. it was a pleasure to work with them, to do what we’ve done in the last two seasons, it was like the first day we came.
“We will try to make a good performance, learn from this game, and prepare for the season.
“I’d prefer this situation but it’s what it is. They got a lot of experience and they’ll benefit us in the future so it’s good for English football and for us.”
Arsenal will be in a great position to kickstart our campaign with many other sides having seen key players go deep in the World Cup, while the majority of our stars have been resting properly, and are now in pre-season.
I don’t expect the Premier League champions to win the Community Shield or their opening game of the season, and it would be a huge boost to our campaign to beat any City side in the opening PL weekend.
Will the City stars choose to come back early? Is Pep right not to try and force his players to return too early?