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Erling Haaland demands, players request more time off, schedule complaints – Embargoed Section: Pep Guardiola’s pre-Burnley press conference part two



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It’s time for part two of Pep Guardiola’s pre-Burnley discussion with the media from Thursday afternoon.

Manchester City will look to kick off their 2023/24 Premier League with three points, as they travel to Turf Moor for a Friday night clash under the lights against Vincent Kompany’s Championship winners.

City come into the contest after a full week of training, but with two successive defeats in mind following a 1-2 loss at the hands of Atletico Madrid in pre-season, and a penalty shoot-out defeat against Arsenal in the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium last weekend.

A meeting with the side now managed by Manchester City’s legendary former captain is the warm-up before the club travel to Athens for the UEFA Super Cup to face Europa League winners Sevilla.

In part two of Pep Guardiola’s pre-Burnley press conference, the City boss discussed his expectations of the record-breaking Erling Haaland this season, the potential for receiving a red card for his touchline behaviour following a crackdown on rules, as well as the demands made by competition organisers on professional athletes.

Here is every word from the embargoed section of Pep Guardiola’s pre-Burnley press conference at the City Football Academy from Thursday afternoon!

On the Super Cup

“I love it. I love to play in the European Super Cup, and even the Community Shield. Firstly, because as a club we’ve never won it. This club has never won the European Super Cup, and of course to play in the World Cup you have to win the Champions League. Winning the Champions League gives you this opportunity, and it is a pleasure to go to Athens and play there. I love it, we like it.”

On 100+ minute matches a result of time-wasting

“I’m not saying that when there are one or two minutes left and we are winning 2-1 or 1-0 and we’re going to the corner to Bernardo (Silva) to keep the ball; there is a time when we’re going to do it. But I’m not thinking this is a team where we’re going to waste time in my career, that’s the point. If you want to control, make it like basketball. Stop the watch.

“Why add eight minutes in the last game? I don’t know exactly what happened; it was one goal, and it was four or five substitutions. It was not injuries, like in the first-half when (Martin) Odegaard was down. I don’t know, but eight minutes, 10 minutes… It’s okay, we’re going to play eight or 10 minutes. It’s like I said before, if they decide 10 minutes, we’re going to play 10 minutes. But if you want it, when it’s out, stop (the watch).”

“In those 10 minutes they’re going to waste time too. It’s the natural way. It’s not the issue. But it’s the same; if the Premier League decides that from the World Cup or for the internationals, I don’t know what’s the reason why, and they want to do it and play every game 100 minutes or 105 minutes or 110 minutes, we’re going to play 105 or 110 minutes. What can we do?

“When we reach 90 minutes we have to know mentally, guys we still have 10 minutes, and in those 10 minutes you have to keep playing. It depends on the circumstances. But for the teams playing every three days, in competitions and competitions with travel, at the end with 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 minutes every game it’s like you’re going to play three more games at the end of the season. We’re going to play 41 games this season, not 38. That’s for sure.

“Our players, I said many times I’ll defend my players, when I go on an international break they go to their national team, and they play 100 minutes and 100 minutes. I said, you play 50, 60, 70 games, it’s okay but after you have two months off or have three months off or have time to recover mentally. But that’s not the case. We have just two or three weeks, and it’s not enough for that, and next season with the Club World Cup, it’s two more weeks in the United States of America to play there. We’d finish I would say in the middle of July, and on the 5th August you play in the Community Shield – the first game of the season – how are you going to rest the players? And for that, what do you have to do, you need 40 players. But 40 players is unsustainable for the clubs because the salaries are so high.

“It’s impossible in the long-term to do it. What is in society; more time, quantity, quantity, more minutes, more everything. No, it has to be the opposite. Make it 30 minutes, and 30 minutes, and extend by 10 minutes. Go to quality, otherwise the players at the end, it will be difficult. But for them, it doesn’t matter, the players are numbers, they are treated as numbers. If it not this player, it will be another one. If it is not this manager, it will be another one. What is the problem? It doesn’t matter.

“The players need, and everyone needs, the people need to go to the theatre, the cinema, to go to the parks, to go to the gardens, to do other things not all the time football, football. When you arrive, be nice, but it’s not going to change! That’s for sure, because it’s getting worse, more games, more games, and more of that.”

On inevitable drop-off for City this season

“It’s inevitable, a little bit. We’ll try to avoid as much as possible, but it’s inevitable, but what else can we do? We won the quadruple years ago, now the treble in Europe, but what else? We have the European Super Cup, we haven’t won it before. We have the Saudi Arabia Club World Cup, we didn’t do that before. But what else? The motivation is not the targets, the Premier Leagues, or this kind of things.

“It’s okay, Burnley, what we can do football wise or the way we play, do it something better individually. But in terms of that it’s difficult, to find right now when it’s 11 months until lifting trophies. When we have two or three months left to win the trophies, we can talk about that. But now? It’s a big mistake talking about trophies and titles. What we have to do is specific things talking about football to win tomorrow (vs Burnley).

“We won five (Premier League titles). Another one? Yeah, it would be nice, that’s good, but nothing changes much. It’s the way we play, take the motivation individually to enjoy playing football, to enjoy being here and everywhere to prove ourselves. And when you are able to maintain the level and close to other contenders to arrive until the end, we have to fight like we have all the time.”

On how he has been able to switch off, and whether he senses the players have been able to

“Many players asked me to give them more days off to come back later. I can’t. We had to go to Asia to prepare a little bit, it’s what the club needs to pay our salaries, and after we had a Community Shield already. We had to come back earlier, it’s normal. It was so demanding last season, so demanding. When we arrived (at the end), one more game would not be possible.

“Now, after two or three weeks, we are here again to start again. It’s not much. The players went to their national teams after the season. And you say, ‘Ah not just you, other players’, ah but the other players had two or three weeks off. It’s a lot. But we have to recharge ourselves, and behave. I don’t have any doubts in this case because what I saw against Arsenal and the training sessions every day, even the games in Asia was really good.

“But I don’t know how much we’ll sustain for 11 months this situation, because I’ve been before in Barcelona but the Spanish league is not so demanding like this one.”

On telling players to forget about last season

“I don’t want them to forget what they achieved. Why should I do that? They have to know. But we were there, up there, and no go down, and start again. It’s do it. When we arrive here, the senses were completely different to build something, to create something, I did not expect to win five Premier Leagues in seven years, honestly. And the people say, ‘Ah, without the Champions League it will not be enough’. Okay, now we have it. What’s next? What’s next is Burnley.

“Vinny (Kompany), what they do, what they have to try to do, here to one hour away to do… and after with all the group to enjoy this European Super Cup, and more than that. I’m not going to promise you thinking, ‘Oh we have to win the Premier League’. It’s far, far. Many things are going to happen. 11 months, not just City, all the clubs will be up and down. It’s inevitable that maybe we will fall down, not too much.

“We’re going to drop, that’s for sure. It’s not drop too much to stay there, close to our rivals that I have the feeling will be in front of us. Being there, being there, and try to in the last four, five, six months, okay let’s do what we have done in every single season, and in the moment we should do it, we did it. And I don’t want to do it now. Now is not drop much, that is my feeling.”

On expecting improvements from Erling Haaland

“I would say that Erling didn’t need a second season, needed maybe one Community Shield game to realise, no more than that. I will advise him not to much too much pressure about the goals and what not. What I would say to Erling is come back as your best, because he’s one metre 90 centimetres, I don’t know how tall he is, and try to be at your best physically and mentally. If you score, fine, if you don’t score, fine. Try to improve in your details, in your quality, skills, in spaces where you can be a better player and if the team is going to help you to give you as much chances as possible to score goals.

“I don’t want Erling to score 50 or 60, try to be happy as last season, relax, and try to get back to your best after holidays, after Asia, still he needs a little more time. Every time, train better, every game you play, demand yourself to make the efforts and after the goals, as he knows, will come along, will come naturally, don’t force it. But we have to do something, him and everyone, in the situations to happen. We cannot wait, we have to do something to make chances, to defend well, to score goals, to not concede, save set pieces. We have to do something to make it happen.”

On inevitable red card for himself this season

“Me? This is the only title I don’t have here in England… This is the only one. Listen, I understand the referees that sometimes we behave really, really bad in front of the fourth official or the referees, and always I have the feeling when we review after we feel ashamed. On the other side is we have to control but the emotions are there and we cannot celebrate and we can’t in actions say, ‘Ah what happened?!’ It can be so annoying being like this all the time with nothing or anything, it’s not nice.

“I remember the first season when I arrived, it was the rule of the referees that every single touch it’s a penalty. I remember the first game away at Stoke City, Mark Hughes was there, and it was two penalties like this (blows), penalty. After a month, or two months, they changed. Now I understand that if we behave really badly when we confront we have to improve that. But at the end hopefully we can find the balance.

“Now we know, now I know every time I talk it will be a yellow card, and every movement will be a yellow card, we know it. We have to adapt and accept the consequences, and hopefully at the end we can arrive in the moment we can talk with the referees, the referees can talk with us, we can talk with fourth officials or official can talk with us, in the normal way.”