Pep Guardiola issues fresh warning to Kalvin Phillips after overweight fury

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Pep Guardiola issues fresh warning to Kalvin Phillips after overweight fury
Pep Guardiola issues fresh warning to Kalvin Phillips after overweight fury

Pep Guardiola has warned Kalvin Phillips that he must be in perfect condition year round.

But after publicly digging the midfielder out last week for returning from his post-World Cup break overweight, the Manchester City boss is ready to throw him back into his starting line-up. That might be on Sunday in the FA Cup third round against Chelsea after his late cameo in the Premier League meeting between the two sides on Thursday.

But certainly against Southampton in the Blues’ EFL Cup quarter-final on Wednesday as they try to keep up their pursuit of all four trophies. Guardiola said of Phillips: “He wants to change his mind about the way he is going to play and it will maybe be a good lesson for him for the future.

“A footballer has to be perfect over 12 months, perfect. Even on holidays, he has to be perfect. You can enjoy, you can do whatever you want, but you have to be ready because at this level, it is so demanding.

“You have to play three games, you have to be fit. If you are not fit, then nothing. But in the last week and days, he improved his level. I don’t know if he will start against Chelsea but for sure, the Carabao Cup, he is going to play.

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“Against Chelsea, we will see. But I had a feeling last week, he was back, you know, I had a good feeling. Listen, Kalvin last season at Leeds was injured for a long part of the season. This is the truth.

“He came and after could not train, struggled with an operation on a shoulder, so every time, training was out. He fought to go to the World Cup, he got there and that was a long period without playing.

Pep Guardiola issues fresh warning to Kalvin Phillips after overweight furyKalvin Phillips was reprimanded by Pep Guardiola after returning from the World Cup overweight (Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

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“In competition, you need rhythm, but it was not there for five or six months. But quickly we needed him, like we need all the players. They need rest, so we need Kalvin and we try to fix it.”

While Phillips was getting a grilling from his boss, other players have hit the ground running following their World Cup exploits, notably John Stones and Nathan Ake. Guardiola added: “John played an incredible World Cup. He was maybe my first or second signing when I arrived seven years ago. I know him quite well.

“I know when he is stable at home, here [tapping his head] he is happy. What a player. He has had some ups and downs in the past, he has had some injuries in the past, but I would say this is part of the process to realise what he needs - he is still young - to be consistent.

“Of course, now with him, with Manu Akanji, with Nathan Ake for example - no one talks about him, he is playing beyond our expectations at left-back and as a defender, how good he defends, all the actions. These types of players help to make the other ones bright, like Kevin De Bruyne or Erling Haaland, or the other ones, and I always pay attention to these type of things.”

Thursday’s Premier League victory over Chelsea was an important one for Guardiola and his men and will give them confidence going into the third-round clash between the two sides, when City will be back on home soil.

Guardiola said: “The FA Cup is important. We won four Carabao Cups in a row because every competition is important, so of course it is important. Maybe there will be new people for this game - they (Chelsea) struggled with injuries on Thursday - Jorginho, Mason Mount was not there. Maybe they will change their shape. After a victory, it is much better, definitely, but we will see a different game.”

Tom Hopkinson

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation