Football

Hectic schedule sucks joy out of playing: Man City boss Pep Guardiola

City boss cites relentless fixtures as reason, after his side's 5-0 rout of Burnley

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his players could not revel in their 5-0 victory over Burnley yesterday morning (Singapore time), as hectic match scheduling had sucked some of the joy out of the sport.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced last season to finish late and this campaign to be condensed into a shorter period, with many club managers lamenting the relentless schedule that has contributed to more injuries.

City, who bounced back from the previous week's defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, moved up to eighth with the win, thanks to a Riyad Mahrez hat-trick. It was the fourth straight time that they had thrashed the Clarets at home by that scoreline.

They travel to Porto for a Champions League game on Wednesday morning (Singapore time) before facing Fulham in the English Premier League on Saturday.

"The problem is the players lose the joy of playing football," Guardiola said.

"Before, it was nice playing once or twice a week with spectators. Now it's three days and then another one. We will travel to Porto to win, then prepare against Fulham."

City had netted just 10 times in their opening eight games before battering Burnley and Guardiola said his forwards must deliver if they are to retain their spot in the team.

"The goals help us, of course. Gabriel Jesus... Raheem Sterling... They have to score more goals. That is why they are here. It depends on the players, their performance on the pitch," Guardiola said.

Mahrez set City on their way in the sixth minute, finishing off a flowing passing move with his trademark cut in from the left and drive into the far corner.

There was a similar finish for the second, with Mahrez picking up the ball in space in the area after Burnley had been caught out by a quick throw in.

MENDY'S FIRST GOAL

Benjamin Mendy made it 3-0 in the 41st minute, volleying home his first goal for the club at the back post after a fine cross from Kevin de Bruyne.

Burnley, weakened by injuries and with Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal instead of the sidelined Nick Pope, enjoyed some relief from the pressure after the break with Jay Rodriguez forcing a save out of Ederson with a well-struck effort from a tight angle.

But Ferran Torres added the fourth goal, slotting home after the overlapping Kyle Walker had found Jesus in the box and the Brazilian flicked the ball to his Spanish teammate to convert confidently.

Mahrez completed his hat-trick, his first for City, in the 69th minute, heading home Phil Foden's cross.

It could have been 6-0 had an effort from Jesus not been ruled out for offside by the VAR (video assistant referee) and a shot from de Bruyne not crashed against the post.

Burnley also lost 5-0 at the Etihad in last season's EPL, in the FA Cup in January 2019 and in the league in 2018.

Broadcasters BT Sport said the last time a team beat the same opponent by five or more goals in four successive games was Notts County against Port Vale between 1893 and 1907.

"It's been tough the last few times we have been here without doubt," Burnley manager Sean Dyche said.

"The media have been on about it and I don't know whether they planted it in the players' minds." - REUTERS

Football