Kalvin Phillips has struggled to adapt to Man City’s system, according to Guardiola
Pep Guardiola has stated that midfielder Kalvin Phillips is still getting used to Manchester City’s system as the manager considers how much to rotate for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.
Exhaustion kept City from celebrating in the Bayern Munich dressing room as they advanced from the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, with several key players — including Rodri — appearing to need a break.
Phillips, Rodri’s understudy, has made just two starts since joining from Leeds United for £42 million last summer. Guardiola’s team had lost four FA Cup semi-finals before meeting Sheffield United at Wembley.
‘In small spaces, Kalvin still needs a bit of rhythm,’ Guardiola added.
‘We miss the best of Kalvin, which is why he doesn’t get many minutes.
‘In prior seasons, I rotated a lot (for semi-finals), and it wasn’t good. I have a lot of reservations. Of course, the players will say they want to play, but we must also ensure that they are in good physical condition.
‘We have no complaints. If you don’t want to (take a break), then drop out of the competitions; you don’t have long weeks. That is the reality if you want it as much as we have demonstrated we want it. Accept and fight for it.
‘We are young, we are well cared for, with nutritionists and many other things, and we must be ready.’
This will be City’s 27th match since the World Cup, and Guardiola, who has refused to be drawn on speculation of a possible Treble, has tried to reduce fatigue in recent weeks by shortening training sessions the day before games. He will be missing Nathan Ake today as the extent of the defender’s hamstring injury is unknown.
‘We’re not going to do anything on Friday,’ he added. ‘We are going to walk out, 20 minutes, to take a breath and maybe we go through some stuff.
‘Some managers say you need to train, but I like to preserve the enthusiasm.’
The mind has control over weariness. When you believe you are completely exhausted, you are. You are not exhausted when you think positively.
‘Your thoughts always control your body psychologically, your mental approach, and you might have terrible or pleasant things. That is up to you, not the management or anyone else.’
‘How is your desire?’ Guardiola said after City’s semi-final defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea in previous seasons. If it’s not (deemed) essential enough, whether it’s the Champions League or the game against Arsenal next week, it’s better not to travel and stay here.
‘Given what we’ve done in the FA Cup in the past, staying in Manchester would have been preferable. You can lose, but not in the way that we did. We weren’t even present.’