Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola made a statement of sorts when the Catalan opted to select only 17 players in his matchday squad for their trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley in their Premier League tie on Saturday.
How we line-up at Turf Moor! 🙌
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 3, 2018
When quizzed on his strange decision prior to kick-off, Guardiola responded, “I do not have enough fit players, hence 17 instead of 18 have travelled”.
Having several first-team players injured is a common scenario these days, but usually managers opt to include some youth-team prospects in such situations.
Guardiola had a ready reply when asked why he didn’t promote any academy players to the senior squad as he stated, “They played last night and hence, were unavailable for selection”.
Considering his recent demands to ask for extra protection for his players in the wake of a spate of injuries, many pundits and fans felt that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager was making a subtle statement to the Premier League.
The Catalan manager is seen as the mastermind behind City’s barnstorming season, but his recent comments have been divisive, to say the least.
After Liverpool paid £75 million to acquire Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January, Guardiola said that City cannot afford to pay such hefty sums for players in the inflated transfer market.
Backed by a near-limitless budget, City have been the biggest spenders among the English teams for the past few seasons so Pep’s comments were met by snorts of derision as they were seen as highly hypocritical.
Aymeric Laporte was the sole arrival of the winter transfer window, but the Spaniard didn’t come for cheap as he cost the petrodollar-backed Citizens a cool £57 million.
While they didn’t make several big-name signings in January, unlike rivals Arsenal and Manchester United, the fact that City are coasting at the top of the Premier League with a 15-point lead with a near-perfect squad meant that the Sky Blues could afford to make do with just the one acquisition.