Pep adds weight to 5 sub rule reversion

Guardiola bemoans demands on players in tight season while shushing Barca rumours

Should Victor Font win the Barcelona club elections, Pep Guardiola (left) may become a sought-after candidate to return to manage his former team.
Should Victor Font win the Barcelona club elections, Pep Guardiola (left) may become a sought-after candidate to return to manage his former team.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font is staking his election bid on bringing Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola back to the Nou Camp.

Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the entire board of directors at the La Liga club resigned earlier this week, leaving a power vacuum that will only be filled after the elections - originally set for March but now set to be brought forward - are held.

Font told Sky Sports yesterday: "Most of the best professionals who know about this style are also fans and love the club, like Pep and (other former players) Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol.

"They are all legends that love Barcelona but do not work for Barca today. We need to bring them back to ensure we will have a very competitive project."

Guardiola is into the final 12 months of his contract at the Etihad and with no new deal agreed yet, there is speculation a second managerial spell with his boyhood club may prove too hard to resist.

The Catalan won multiple trophies with the Spanish giants in a four-year spell until 2012, landing four successive league and two Champions League titles.

Since leaving Barca, European glory with Bayern Munich and City has proved elusive but the 49-year-old yesterday insisted he wished to "stay longer".

At his virtual pre-match press conference ahead of City's Premier League trip to 19th-placed Sheffield United today, Guardiola said: "I am incredibly happy here. I'm delighted to be in Manchester and I hope I can do a good job this season to stay longer."

Since joining in 2016, he has already stayed longer with City than any of his previous teams, and a contract extension will be much more forthcoming should his team wrest the league title from Liverpool and secure a maiden European Cup.

Injuries have, however, disrupted their start to this season, although Guardiola claimed their plight had been made worse by a shortened pre-season break and a fixture list compressed by the demands of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike other leagues in Europe, the Premier League voted against five substitutes this season with smaller clubs fearful the rule change would favour bigger squads.

However, Guardiola is hopeful authorities can revert to five substitutes, as was the case after the competition resumed in June last term.

"Definitely they should, they should 100 per cent," he said. "It's not about one club. There are statistics that they don't deny - that in the Premier League, players have 47 per cent more muscular injuries than the previous season, due to no preparation for most of the teams and the amount of games.

"Hopefully, they can reconsider and do what the rest of the world does because we have to adjust to the pandemic situation and other things.

"The reality is completely different now to before. Intelligent people adjust to the situation in the world - football is about the players. We'll see."

Guardiola also added that his team, 13th in the league, would be without Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy at Bramall Lane, but Nathan Ake and Gabriel Jesus could make their return from injury.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2020, with the headline 'Pep adds weight to 5 sub rule reversion'. Print Edition | Subscribe