Pep Guardiola fears his preparations for Manchester City’s Premier League title defence have been affected by the World Cup.
Guardiola has travelled to the United States for games against Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Bayern Munich with a squad made up mostly of young players as many of his regular stars are enjoying an extended break following their exploits in Russia.
First team stars such as Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Ederson, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and John Stones have not made the journey to compete in the annual International Champions Cup pre-season tournament with most not expected back until a week before the start of the domestic season in England.
Guardiola has also suffered a setback in the transfer market this summer with Napoli’s Italian international midfielder Jorginho following manager Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea and although Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez has signed for 60 million pounds ($79 million), the Spaniard is poised to begin the season with almost the same squad.
It’s far from ideal but Guardiola won’t force any player back just for the sake of it.
“It is what it is,” said the Spaniard. “We spoke — they have to come back ready. If the days before they are tired and they don’t want to fight for the Community Shield, play at Arsenal, then stay on holidays. We cannot forget what we’ve done but we start again. If they are ready they’ll help us and if not we’ll wait for them. If they are not mentally and physically ready, they won’t come back.
“It’s been a pleasure working with academy players over the last few days.”