Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

We don't train

September 22, 2023 — Pep Guardiola, when asked how he works with Oscar Bobb in first-team training to get him to the level needed to be a regular starter, responded: “We don’t train.”

“Listen, I would like to tell you how good we are with the manager, how we train in the training session, but with this amazing schedule that we have, we don’t train.

shrugs “Hi, how are you? How was breakfast? Lunchtime, recovery” – we don’t train.

He cannot improve with the managers because we don’t have training sessions. We have to recover because the schedule is what it is, and we have the game in three days […]”

Watch the full press conference

Erling Haaland (left), Pep Guardiola (center), and Oscar Bobb (right) in training. Manchester City FC via Getty Images

This is the sad reality of top-flight football in the modern day. Players playing 50, 60, 70 matches a year for club and country. It’s not sustainable. No matter how gifted someone is, the human body can only handle so much before it gives out.

Youth players can’t thrive in these types of environments. Right now, the way you break through into a team is on the pitch, during a live match; it’s not on the training ground. You can’t get in any sort of rhythm with 10-15 minute cameos at the end of a match in a tepid game state. That’s all you get.

Rodri has played 6,840 minutes for Manchester City and Spain from 2022 to the present. That is 76 90s in less than 2 years. He has since asked for less playing time:

“The important thing for me is they know the situation and for the next few seasons, we will have to watch out. Now I am young, but maybe when I get to 30 or 31, I cannot do this kind of thing, so I have to watch the body because 60 games is not the best thing for a player. Also, the seasons get even longer every year. We have to adapt to this.”

This is the type of self-awareness that the Gavi’s, Saka’s, Pedri’s, Rashford’s of the world won’t have because they are young and in their mind ‘I’m invincible.’ Let’s run them, and run them, and run them until the wheels fall off.

Figure 1.1 - Premier League team's schedule with European and Cup matches included between September 16th to October 8th. Visual made by @Legomane_FPL

This is the schedule Premier League sides have to face in 22 days. I think Newcastle United has it the worst based on the quality of the opponents. They have to play:

  • AC Milan, away, in the Champions League (2 days rest prior)
  • Sheffield United, away, in the Premier League (4 days rest prior)
  • Manchester City, home, in the EFL Cup (2 days rest prior)
  • Burnley, home, in the Premier League (2 days rest prior)
  • PSG, home, in the Champions League (3 days rest prior)
  • West Ham, away, in the Premier League (3 days rest prior)

After all those high-intensity games, players go off on international duty between October 9th to the 17th to play even more matches, and then repeat.

So much travel, no substantive training because there’s no time. Something has to change.

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