EPL

City boss Pep Guardiola apologises to Kalvin Phillips for ‘overweight’ comment

By Sports Desk February 19, 2024

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has apologised to Kalvin Phillips for saying publicly that he had returned from the Qatar World Cup overweight.

Guardiola made the comment in a press conference in December 2022 having left the City and England midfielder out of a Carabao Cup tie against Liverpool.

Phillips, who joined West Ham on loan in January, earlier this month told the Observer that “after the World Cup was probably the toughest, when Pep came out and said I was overweight”, adding: “I did not disagree with him but obviously I took a big knock on my confidence and how I felt at City.”

Guardiola was asked at a press conference on Monday if he regretted going public about Phillips’ weight, and he said: “Yeah, I’m sorry.

“Once in eight years is not bad. But I’m so sorry. I apologise to him. I do apologise. I’m sorry.”

Phillips said there had been a misunderstanding as to when he was expected to report back and that rather than speaking to Guardiola about that, he “just took it on the chin”.

Guardiola emphasised that he had spoken to Phillips before making the public comment about his weight, saying: “I never, never before I said something here did not speak with the players in that case.”

The manager was talking ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League home clash with Brentford, who City came from behind to beat 3-1 at the Gtech Community Stadium on February 5.

That match saw City defender Kyle Walker respond angrily to something Neal Maupay, the forward on loan with the Bees from Everton, had said to him in the closing stages.

Guardiola said: “I don’t want it but sometimes there is emotions and it happens, and you know that. But this (incident) is forgotten. It happened, I think they talked and that’s all.”

Asked how he dealt with players verbally winding him up during his days on the pitch, the former Barcelona midfielder said: “It depended on my mood!

“Listen, in my period in Barcelona I am in the history for having the record of the most yellow cards conceded. All the time it was for talk, talk, talk.

“So it depends, sometimes I controlled (myself), sometimes (I was) being crazy. People say ‘ah, he cannot control’. As a football player I was the same.”

Tuesday’s fixture is a game in hand for third-placed City over leaders Liverpool and second-placed Arsenal, who the defending champions are four and two points behind respectively.

Guardiola’s treble-winners saw an 11-match winning run in all competitions come to an end with Saturday’s 1-1 league draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.

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