Later News Aug 08

Guardiola blames UEFA, FIFA after losing back-to-back finals for the first time in his career

The blame game has begun for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, after his side – which included new £100m (S$188m) signing Jack Grealish – fell to a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City in the Community Shield this morning (SGT).


WATCH: Grealish's first interview as a Manchester City player


Former City player Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning goal for the Foxes in the 89th minute via a penalty which he himself had earned after being tripped in the box by Nathan Ake.


The result meant that Guardiola, whose team lost the Champions League final to Chelsea in May, got to experience the ignominy of back-to-back defeats in a cup final for the first time in his illustrious – and high-spending – managerial career.


The 50-year-old Spaniard, however, knew exactly who to pin the blame on for City’s defeat: UEFA and FIFA. 


Guardiola, who fielded academy players (yes, City do actually have an academy) Samuel Edozie, Cole Palmer and Ben Knight during the game, believes his team were hampered by the lack of preparation time due to the recent international competitions.


“We will arrive like it happened last season – late, late, late, because UEFA and FIFA don't give time to managers for the calendars or players to rest,” Guardiola, who had to do without at least six first-team players for the game, moaned.


“Tomorrow, seven or eight players arrive. Rodri made two training sessions, [Aymeric] Laporte is isolated, many players make just two or three training sessions. We are trying to get results knowing we are not at our best, game by game, we start our best to compete every game.


“Mentally, yes of course I am ready but how can we be ready after three or four training sessions for some players? You build relations over four or five weeks travelling together.


“I would love to have Ederson and Gabriel [Jesus] and the English players here, but they finished the season three weeks ago so they have to rest. No human being can sustain. But we adapt, adapt and adapt.”


WATCH: Guardiola talks about Community Shield defeat


Nonetheless, Guardiola is confident that the reigning English Premier League (EPL) champions will be ready for their opening game of the new season next Sunday, when they travel to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur.


“The players will be better next Sunday,” declared Guardiola, who probably had to bite his tongue to stop himself from uttering Roy Keane’s famous ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham’ quote.


“Before the international break, we want to get as many points as possible to be there and after week by week, I am pretty sure we will be better. What I saw today I am incredibly confident for the season.”


Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who led his team to FA Cup success last season, conceded that he was pleased to win the Community Shield, despite it having about as much prestige and glamour as a participation trophy at a Primary School track-and-field meet.


WATCH: Rodgers reacts to Community Shield victory


“Both teams are here on merit and it is at the end of a pre-season when players are still looking for fitness physically. But you've seen over the last number of years it's even more so become a prominent trophy,” said Rodgers, who will now be hoping to do better than the last team to win an FA Cup and Community shield (Arsenal).


“If you're here you want to win it and that's the mindset we tried to bring to the team and the club: that every game is to win. The guys showed great spirit, great quality at times and eventually got the winning goal.”




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