Pep takes hard line on health, fitness

SHENZHEN • Pep Guardiola has dismissed reports that a small number of Manchester City players turned up for pre-season training overweight but stressed the importance of keeping players fit ahead of the new English Premier League season.

The new City manager's emphasis on fitness was highlighted when left-back Gael Clichy revealed that Guardiola had taken pizzas off the menu at City and imposed strict weight parameters on the squad, with the threat of a ban from training with the first team if they were breached.

Speaking in China, where City are on a money-spinning pre-season tour, the French defender told The Guardian and other British media that Guardiola had wasted no time in laying down the law.

"You often hear managers say being healthy is really important. With him, if your weight is too high, you're not training with the team," Clichy said. "He cut out some juice and pizza and all the heavy food is not allowed."

There has been plenty of attention paid to Guardiola's new regimen on and off the pitch since his high-profile arrival this summer.

But the Spaniard denied taking a dictatorial approach with his players. "The nutritionist is the boss. I'm not a chef. He decides what they have to eat," he said in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, ahead of their International Champions Cup (ICC) match against Borussia Dortmund.

He also denied his players had returned to training out of shape: "No, they are not overweight. I want my players fit. For me, that is important... I need to get my players absolutely fit."

In this morning's other matches in the ICC, European champions Real Madrid face French champions Paris Saint-Germain, Guardiola's former club Bayern Munich are up against AC Milan, and Antonio Conte's Chelsea test themselves against Liverpool.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Pep takes hard line on health, fitness'. Print Edition | Subscribe