Players are losing the joy of playing, says Man City's Guardiola


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Burnley - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - November 28, 2020 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola Pool via REUTERS/Michael Regan

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

The novel coronavirus pandemic forced last season to finish late and this campaign to be condensed into a shorter period, with a chorus of club managers lamenting the relentless schedule that they believe has contributed to more player injuries.

City, who bounced back from last week's defeat by Tottenham Hotspur and moved up to eighth with the win against Burnley, travel to Porto for a Champions League game on Tuesday before facing Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday.

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

"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 Saturday's victory 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 has to score goals. Raheem Sterling when he plays has to score. They have to score more goals. That is why they are here. It depends on the players, their performance on the pitch," Guardiola said.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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