Pep Guardiola Says Carabao Cup Should Be Axed to Ease Congested English Calendar

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2020

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12: Manchester City manager / head coach Pep Guardiola during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park on January 12, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has called for the Carabao Cup to be removed from the English football calendar in order to ease the burden on players. 

The Citizens are on course to win their third consecutive League Cup—they lead rivals Manchester United 3-1 following their semi-final first leg—while City will also face Fulham in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

Guardiola, 49, said at a press conference that the competition should be removed, allowing for a less demanding winter schedule, via Andy Hampson of the Press Association:

The Carabao Cup accounts for two of the five major titles Guardiola has won since he joined City in 2016, but the coach appeared eager to sacrifice the tournament for what he sees as the greater good:

"Eliminate competitions, take out this competition. So less games, less competitions, less teams, more quality, less quantity. People can live without football for a while. It's too much.

"Start the season later after the summer. We have one game a week for a long time and then, after, we start having two or three in one week. In February it is one week (playing), one week (playing), two weeks off. We have two games in two weeks then, after, we have 72 games in one week. It's a little bit strange."

Guardiola said he was "so sorry" for England with regard to Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) and Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), each of whom have seen their UEFA Euro 2020 preparations halted by injuries.

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He added: "They want to do well. Clubs have a lot of pressure to win or qualify for the Champions League and we push and push. The body says stop, it's enough."

Premier League leaders Liverpool recently emerged from a hectic December schedule, during which they played nine matches and won eight to tie the club record for victories in one month, per Tom Beattie of the Liverpool Echo. 

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp shares the belief that English football has too many fixtures, having also recently sympathised with England captain Kane after he tore his hamstring, per the Liverpool Echo's Paul Gorst:

Aston Villa thrashed the Merseysiders 5-0 after Liverpool named their youngest-ever team in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. Liverpool fielded their academy prospects before the senior team opened their successful 2019 FIFA Club World Cup campaign less than 24 hours later in Doha, Qatar.

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour recently told TalkSport that Guardiola should see the League Cup—which also contains teams from the Championship, League One and League Two—as a chance to test his young stars:

City will play eight matches across three competitions in January, while the Citizens are also set to open the UEFA Champions League round of 16 against Real Madrid in February.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Guardiola said "all the managers complained about" the congested calendar but suggested there won't be change in the near future, as the authorities "don't care."

City travel to Sheffield United on Tuesday when Guardiola hopes to temporarily cut down the 16-point gap between them and Premier League pace-setters, Liverpool.