There’s not too much doubt that the next couple of weeks are going to be some of the most important of Pep Guardiola’s Man City career, so it’s odd that he would choose to target the Eurovision Song Contest as a potential derailer of his team’s Champions League and Premier League ambitions.
The champions-elect face Everton on Sunday afternoon, just three days before they host current Champions League holders, Real Madrid, in the second-leg of their European semi-final.
Under normal circumstances perhaps the Premier League would have given the green light to the Everton fixture taking place on the Saturday, however, given that Eurovision is being held in Liverpool and the final is on Saturday night, that was never going to be possible, much to Guardiola’s chagrin.
“I don’t understand it. But I don’t want to fight for that any more,” he said in quotes run by The Telegraph (subscription required).
“I have to adapt. I don’t fight anymore about the schedules, UEFA and Premier League and so on.
“I’m pretty sure the Premier League wants to help the teams, not to make it uncomfortable. The problem is because of the schedule, this amount of competitions and games. This is the problem.
“We can’t play Saturday because Eurovision or something like that in Liverpool, and we don’t have too much police to handle two important events at the same time. What can I do? We’d prefer to play Saturday so we can prepare more, definitely.
“It is not about the Premier League, or that in France and Germany they play Friday [before Champions League games], here is the opposite.
“The Premier League is more important, the schedule is the schedule, the days are the days. We cannot stop. But since day one I felt it, and it’s not going to change.”
Fixture congestion can often derail the quest for glory, and perhaps broadcasters and stakeholders do need to get together at some point soon and discuss how the situation can be addressed to the satisfaction of all parties, given that it’s not just Pep who has had a problem with it in the past.
If the English top-flight is to continue to be seen as the standard bearer and the league to which all others aspire, the players welfare has to be looked after.