Pep Guardiola will be without his main man for at least the next three months and, understandably, he isn’t best pleased about it.
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After the news broke that Kevin De Bruyne has injured ligaments in his right knee, Guardiola spoke to the media ahead of City’s clash with Huddersfield Town on Sunday (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
The Spaniard believes KDB, who was their Player of the Season in 2017-18 and had a superb World Cup for Belgium this summer, didn’t have enough rest before suffering the injury in training.
“Sometimes it is normal – the players don’t rest, they come back and have a short recovery and we say ‘come on, let’s go’ – sometimes human beings have a limit,” Guardiola said. “We demand a lot of the players. More than 11 months and after immediately they come back. I am pretty sure this has an influence. When you are fresh here (in your head) and in your legs, this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”
Ah, the old ‘the players are playing too much these days’ debate has reared its ugly head again. Our advice: get used to hearing this type of talk from managers across Europe in the next few weeks and months.
Unfortunately De Bruyne, like many other stars, has been rushed back into the thick of things after no real preseason following Belgium’s run to the final four of the World Cup tournament.
The mercurial playmaker pretty much played for 11 months flat out and was handed a few weeks of vacation before being launched back into intense training and matches. It’s such a tough balancing act because the player wants to play, the manager obviously needs his star players and the fans want to see him back on the pitch as soon as possible.
But at what cost?
Guardiola has long been an advocate of the winter break and reducing the load on players and KDB’s untimely injury will give him another reason to get on his soapbox about that topic and he will no doubt be able to drum up plenty of support for it in 2018-19 as other PL managers struggle to manage the tiredness of their stars.
Does Guardiola have a point? Probably. Will things change anytime soon? The winter break next season may help out, but until then the top teams have the PL, UEFA Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup to worry about.
The fact of the matter is that in a World Cup year there is always a short turnaround back to league play and managers must be smart when deciding if they can use their stars early in the season.
The likes of Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool may well have a crowded treatment room come December time if they do not manage the workload of their players properly.