EPL

It depends on their heads - Guardiola wary of mental strain on Man City stars

By Sports Desk August 08, 2021

Pep Guardiola will take the mental health of his international stars into consideration as Manchester City prepare for a quick turnaround into the new season.

The Premier League champions went down to a 1-0 Community Shield defeat against Leicester City on Saturday, their former striker Kelechi Iheanacho coming off the bench to win and convert a late penalty at Wembley.

Guardiola remained without Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus after their respective runs to the finals of Euro 2020 and the Copa America with England and Brazil.

The sextet will return to training on Monday, while Kevin De Bruyne is still on the mend after an ankle injury sustained during Belgium's progress to the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

Aymeric Laporte – a Euros semi-finalist with Spain – must self-isolate until the middle of next week because a passenger on his flight back to the United Kingdom after a vacation tested positive for COVID-19. The defender has tested negative.

It adds up to a far-from-ideal preparation for next weekend's league opener at Tottenham, a fixture likely to be lent a tempestuous edge by City's pursuit of Harry Kane.

Nevertheless, Guardiola knows a return to peak physical fitness will come in time, even though he again took aim at scheduling arrangements by UEFA and FIFA in his post-match comments at Wembley.

The former Barcelona boss is more concerned about the mental strain endured by players who have been on a near non-stop schedule since returning to action from the coronavirus lockdown last June.

Asked whether his England players would benefit from being afforded an extra week of rest, he replied: "It depends on their heads. They have to rest and now they can be ready, but it depends on here [the head].

On whether his returning internationals would be ready to play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Guardiola replied: "A few players get the condition so quick, others need a little more time. We will see the weight, the body fat, how they arrive. And especially their heads.

"There are players who play three, four or five days and their mentality is positive and they are ready to fight and suffer in the bad conditions. Some of them take a little more time.

"We will try to discover which ones are ready immediately."

Foden is unlikely to be among that group, given he must still recover from the foot injury that ruled him out of England's penalty shoot-out loss to Italy.

Stones was an ever-present at centre-back for Gareth Southgate's side, while Sterling and Walker were each named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

"All of them, they played really well. I'm glad and happy for them. They have had many years together," Guardiola said.

"They made an incredible achievement. When you achieve a final in the Euro it's a big, big thing.

"They have to be so proud of what they have done with the national team. The benefits to the confidence will be there.

"But the past is the past. What you have done with the national team is for the memories. The challenge is ahead of us to do a good season."

Related items

  • Lucy Bronze to leave Man City as England Lionesses star is linked with move to USA Lucy Bronze to leave Man City as England Lionesses star is linked with move to USA

    England star Lucy Bronze has called time on her Manchester City career after a second stint with the Women's Super League outfit.

    Bronze, who won FIFA's The Best Women's Player Award in 2020, is set for a crucial role with her country when England host the European Championship in July.

    The Telegraph reported last week that 30-year-old Bronze has received offers from clubs in the United States and is considering a move to a team on the west coast.

    She has been spending time in California this week, according to pictures posted on her Instagram account.

    City said in a statement on Thursday: "Manchester City can confirm that defender Lucy Bronze will depart the club at the end of her current contract this summer.

    "The defender will bring the curtain down on her second spell at the Academy Stadium and five years altogether in sky blue next month, having made 111 appearances and scored 14 goals."

    Bronze has been a league and Women's FA Cup winner with City, but her greatest run of success came in a three-year spell at Lyon, where she helped the French giants land the Champions League three times.

    Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir is also leaving City, the club said this week, while versatile forward Georgia Stanway has agreed to join Bayern Munich.

  • 'One of the world's best centre forwards' – Voller hails Patrik Schick as Bundesliga hot shot lands long-term deal 'One of the world's best centre forwards' – Voller hails Patrik Schick as Bundesliga hot shot lands long-term deal

    Bayer Leverkusen have secured the future of their coveted striker Patrik Schick by signing up the prolific Czech for the next five years.

    Schick was joint-top goalscorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at last year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament, hitting five goals.

    He carried that form into the 2021-22 Bundesliga campaign, tallying 24 goals in 27 league games as Leverkusen finished third to earn a Champions League place.

    Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski scored more in the German top flight, and Schick had been linked with a host of clubs, including Premier League outfits Arsenal and Newcastle United.

    He was prepared to forgo the possibility of such a switch as he extended a previous contract that ran to 2025 with the new deal that takes him through to the end of the 2026-27 season.

    "I just feel good here," said 26-year-old Schick. "It's a lot of fun with these guys. Qualifying for the Champions League is a good next step. 

    "A lot is possible here, which is exactly why I extended my contract at Bayer 04."

    Leverkusen's departing sporting director Rudi Voller left a parting gift by playing a significant part in the negotiations, with the 1990 World Cup winner saying: "Renewing with such a player is an expression of our ambitions and a clear sign that things will continue at the top level at Bayer Leverkusen even after my departure.

    "For me, Patrik Schick is currently one of the world's best centre forwards. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the Werkself shirt in the years to come."

    Voller is vacating his position as former Leverkusen midfielder Simon Rolfes steps up to inherit the role.

    Rolfes said: "There are only a few centre forwards of his stature internationally. Added to Patrik's exceptional sporting qualities as a full-fledged striker are the skills of a leader."

    Schick came to international prominence thanks to his sensational long-range strike for the Czech Republic against Scotland, which was voted Euro 2020's goal of the tournament.

    He showed brilliant vision to shoot from just inside the Scotland half, with the goal measured at 49.7 yards, making it the furthest distance from which a goal has been scored at the European Championship since such data was first recorded in 1980.

  • Langer hits out at Cricket Australia politics, rules over ever coaching England Langer hits out at Cricket Australia politics, rules over ever coaching England

    Justin Langer says he was tired of the "b******t politics" within Cricket Australia while he was head coach of the national team and insisted he would never coach England.

    Langer resigned in February on the back of masterminding Australia's maiden T20 World Cup triumph and a 4-0 Ashes thumping of England on home soil.

    The former opening batter turned down a short-term contract extension, bringing his reign to an end almost four years after replacing Darren Lehmann.

    Ricky Ponting, the late Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Mark Waugh were among the Australia greats who hit out at Cricket Australia over their treatment of Langer.

    The 51-year-old has spoken out over the issues he had to contend with, taking aim at interim Cricket Australia chairman Richard Freudenstein.

    Langer told a Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA event in Perth: "The first thing he [Freudenstein] said to me was, 'It must make you feel so good that all your mates are supporting you in the media.'

    "I said, 'Yeah it is, acting chairman, but with all due respect, those mates are also the all-time greats of Australian cricket. They are the fabric of Australian cricket. They are Australian cricket. They also work all around the world in cricket. So yeah, I'm glad my mates are looking after me. Imagine if you had have'.

    "Ironically, the last six months of my coaching career were the most enjoyable period of 12 years of coaching. Not only did we win everything, but I had energy, and I had focus, and I was happy – besides the b******t politics."

    Langer added: "It's no wonder you get tired. It's no wonder your health suffers; your mental, your physical health. You're trying to please everybody.

    "The great lesson I learned was…I cleared my desk, and all of a sudden instead of having everything on my table, I had two things on my desk. One was winning and the second thing was my people.

    "If you know people have got your back, you can achieve miracles. If they haven't, it's a very lonely place. Leadership can be very, very lonely. But it's not lonely when you know people have got your back."

    Langer was linked with England before Brendon McCullum and Matthew Mott were appointed as Test and white-ball head coaches respectively.

    Asked whether he would have taken a job with Australia's fierce rivals, Langer replied while shaking his head: "I've never spoken to English cricket. The thought of coaching England ...mate!"

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.