MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola has admitted that he is concerned about whether his Manchester City squad can cope with challenging for four trophies.
After Sunday’s game at Crystal Palace, City will have played nine games in December and their schedule doesn’t get much relief in January, with another seven games in 31 days.
City have already reached the semifinals of the Carabao Cup but would face at least five games to reach the FA Cup final, while the two-legged Champions League restarts in the middle of February with six games before the final in Kiev.
The squad has been boosted by John Stones’ return to training after a hamstring injury but Benjamin Mendy and Phil Foden are still some way from returning and Guardiola is wary of resources being stretched too far.
“I am worried about that. We have to handle four competitions and I don’t know if we able to do that,” the Catalan coach told a news conference.
“With this schedule we have to be careful. I am worried because we cannot play every four days. We have to live now and then the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup — because Bristol City… something [special] is going on there.
“But they cannot play, every three days 90 minutes, 90 minutes, 90 minutes. They need [mental] refreshing to arrive in the last part of the season quite well. I’ve never lived this situation before — three competitions I have handled many times but four never.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola says England coaches are always welcome to speak him for advice but insists they must decide on their own style of play.
Guardiola’s tactics were criticised last season when City failed to maintain a title challenge, with some pundits claiming his philosophy would not be successful in England.
That opinion has changed with his side on a record-breaking streak of 18 successive victories, but Guardiola says it’s not necessarily the right option for the national team.
“Of course, [I would help],” he said. “The only thing I can say it and then after that they have to do what they believe. Don’t follow me because I have success now — that would be a big mistake.
“I was a young manger and for me it was a gift to speak with managers who opened their doors to explain what they believe about their profession about the locker room about the tactics about whatever.
“Of course I am ready to speak to them. They don’t know it but I am going to learn off them as well!”
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.