Manchester City chief coach Pep Guardiola has joined the chorus in slamming the tight winter festive schedule of the English Premier League (EPL), insisting the need to protect the footballers from burnout. City’s festive EPL games began on December 23 against Bournmouth and till date, they have played three matches against Newcastle United (December 28), Crystal Palace (December 31) and Watford (January 2). In the win over Watford, City’s full-back Kyle Walker was injured while in the match against Crystal Palace, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus were injured.

This led to Guardiola’s criticism saying it is not normal for players to play every two-three days. Previously, West Brom, Chelsea have also complained regarding this issue. “What I’ve seen in the last weeks is how many injuries the players have. We are going to kill them. The federation needs to reflect. I know the show must go on, but this is not normal,” Guardiola was quoted as saying by his club’s website. “They (EPL officials) control us (coaches) but don’t protect the players. The people come here to watch the players and enjoy their performances — not the managers in the press conferences or the journalists who write about the game.”

The leagues in Spain and Germany close during the festive period. But Italian Serie A this season broke their tradition by running the games during this time. “In England, you don’t protect the players. You can’t play every two days. You don’t have to change the festive fixtures, the Boxing Day games and so on, but you can’t play the morning in Selhurst Park, come back, celebrate New Year’s Eve, and then play two days later,” Guardiola said.

“The show must go on and we try — the physios, doctors, nutritionist — to protect them. The tradition is the tradition, but we have to think about it a little bit. The players are artists and they are the reason we are here.” Guardiola said that Brazilian striker Jesus “will be out for between four to six weeks, or a little bit longer”. “As for Kevin, he told me he wanted to play tonight. He was in pain because it was a kick he received, but if he wants to play, I want him to play.”