Pep bemoans Cup's toll on City

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola awaits kick off in the English League Cup third round football match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City, on Sept 20, 2017.
Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola awaits kick off in the English League Cup third round football match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City, on Sept 20, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Pep Guardiola has called the League Cup "a waste of energy" as the Manchester City manager joined old rival Jose Mourinho in questioning the worth of the English football competition.

The Spaniard made eight changes for City's 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday, allowing him to keep players fresh before today's Premier League home game against Crystal Palace. City host Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday before a league game at Chelsea the following Saturday.

"We have a lot of games. If you have to play in a competition you have to play in it," Guardiola said yesterday. "It's good for the players you don't use a lot. It's a prize where, when you win, it's okay, but after that the people don't give too much credit.

"You can imagine going against a Tony Pulis team and playing 90 minutes in those conditions, then you spend three or four hours on the bus. Then three days later, it's Crystal Palace, three days later, Shakhtar Donetsk, three or four days later, Stamford Bridge.

"So for the managers, there's a lot of wasted energy. But we knew that before, so it's not a complaint in those terms. If we have to play, we have to play."

City and United go into the weekend joint-top of the Premier League, each with 13 points from five matches and an identical goal record. Guardiola's team are on a run of five successive wins, having beaten Liverpool 5-0 and Watford 6-0 in recent weeks.

They are favourites to beat Palace, who are bottom of the league without a point or a goal. But new Eagles manager Roy Hodgson guided them to a midweek Cup win over Huddersfield, and Guardiola has warned his players to be wary.

"The team are not pulled by strings. One little detail down and everything is down. You have to be careful," he said.

Former England manager Hodgson, 70, is the oldest man to take charge of a Premier League club. Guardiola, 46, admires him for his long career, but insists he has no intention of still being a coach in his seventies.

"Definitely not. I promise you. I love golf. But I admire him," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2017, with the headline 'Pep bemoans Cup's toll on City'. Print Edition | Subscribe