Rodri and Pep Guardiola warn of ‘unhealthy’ amount of games following Premier League rule changes
Rodri insisted that he played 'eight or nine more games' than the next outfield player in his team alone.
Manchester City star Rodri and head coach Pep Guardiola have warned that he and several other teammates played an ‘unhealthy’ amount of games last season and that things could soon get unmanageable following the latest Premier League changes.
The Man City and Spain star who secured the Blues’ first Champions League trophy and their historic treble recently gave an exclusive interview with The Athletic where he said that he needs to reassess after the total number of minutes he racked up last season.
Rodri, who has been an essential cog in Pep‘s team for multiple seasons now, told journalist Sam Lee, “I think I have to have a talk with the club and with the coach because starting 57, 59 games and playing 60-something, in general, is not healthy… I never get enough rest”.
Although the 27-year-old featured in 56 competitive club matches in the 2022/23 campaign, with international football on top of that (most of which he started) he played well over 60 games and with the Premier League recently announcing new rules changes, he could be set to face even more minutes.
Rodri went on to say that while this amount of fixture congestion isn’t too severe a problem right now, “When I get to 30 or 31 I cannot do this kind of thing, so I have to watch the body because 60 games is not the best thing for a player.
“You can do it for one season, but when it’s two or three in a row, it can be worse for the team because your physicality can drop… We have already spoken that it cannot always be like this.” It will be interesting to see how this narrative plays out in City’s upcoming Treble documentary too.
He also noted that since “the seasons get even longer every year”, players and coaches, in general, are going to have to adapt in order to keep up with the pace, especially given the recent updates to how the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) want to see the league run.
As part of the raft of new changes, the PGMOL confirmed that they intend to reduce stoppages in hopes of creating a better flow in games, allowing more leniency when it comes to “physical challenges” as well as more added time following lengthy celebrations. Guardiola took aim at the decision earlier this week.
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Speaking after his sides’ Community Shield disappointment, Pep told reporters that the problem isn’t just physical but mental. “They are exhausted”, insisted the 52-year-old; “Look already how many players are injured in the pre-season in bad conditions: humidity, hot, the pitches are not really good – especially in the States. But it is what it is. We have to adapt, adjust, but it’s not normal.”
As for his opinion on the adjustments the FA are making match-by-match, he said that “wasting time, from my point of view, is not going to be solved by adding 10 more minutes”.
It calculated that the average time the ball was in play in Premier League matches was less than 55 minutes per 90 and even fewer minutes further down the EFL but, as Pep sees it, “What happens if they continue to be slow? It’s more tiring for the players. It’s too much.”
City play the opening game of the new season against newly-promoted Burnley on Friday, 11 August at 8pm but only finished their pre-season on 30 July and played their last game this past Sunday. As the meme goes, ‘the football’ famously never stops and is officially going on forever.
Featured Image — Manchester City (via Instagram)