Monday, January 30, 2023

Kalvin Phillips can respond to Pep Guardiola’s “overweight” criticism by copying Manchester City teammate

Kalvin Phillips can respond to Pep Guardiola’s “overweight” criticism by copying Manchester City teammate

On Friday, Pep Guardiola’s remark that he would determine if his players returned from the World Cup “fit or obese” was seen as a comical change of phrase.

A little over twenty-four hours later, it was revealed that Guardiola may have been referring to Kalvin Phillips, as he told reporters that the English midfielder cannot train or play after returning from the World Cup “overweight.”

Taking the statements at its value, it is a scathing indictment of Phillips, who has only appeared four times for City and has been sidelined for months following shoulder surgery.

To regain Guardiola’s favor, he might do worse than look around the Manchester City locker room for the appropriate response.

“He’s not injured. He arrived overweight. I don’t know [why]. He didn’t arrive in the condition to do training sessions and to play,” said Guardiola.

“When he will be ready, he will play, because we need him, we need him a lot.”

Given that Phillips has trained every day for England in Qatar and has appeared twice off the bench, it is puzzling that he has not met Guardiola’s fitness requirements.

It is not the first time this season that Guardiola has openly cited a player’s weight as an explanation for why they aren’t playing.

Guardiola stated in October that Riyad Mahrez was not playing as often as other teammates owing to his ‘physical condition,’ since the Algerian failed to score in his first ten games.

Mahrez has scored five goals in his last eight appearances, including three in his last three, after sliding down the pecking order and seeing the majority of his playing time in cup games. 

The awe-inspiring first touch and finish against Liverpool indicated that he has emerged from his earlier slump and can once again be considered for the biggest games.

Phillips could do worse than to emulate Mahrez’s example as a player whose fitness was questioned before he returned to form.

While the criticism of Phillips appears to be a low point in his faltering City career, Mahrez’s season suggests it could be the boost he needs to play the role that Guardiola plainly desires.

Kalvin Phillips can respond to Pep Guardiola’s “overweight” criticism by copying Manchester City teammate

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