Sunday 23 October 2016

Pep Guardiola's Man City revolution continues with eve-of-match hotel stays scrapped

James Ducker

Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30

Pep Guardiola: fewer nights in hotels. Photo: AP
Pep Guardiola: fewer nights in hotels. Photo: AP

Pep Guardiola is likely to scrap the long-standing policy of hotel get-togethers the night before matches by allowing his Manchester City's players to stay at home with their families on the eve of games at the Etihad Stadium next season.

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Guardiola bucked the trend of getting the team together in a hotel the day before matches at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and is now considering doing the same at City as part of a series of changes the two-time Champions League winning manager is implementing.

The strategy is designed to help take players' minds off games and, in turn, calm any nerves and alleviate pressure and was well received at Barcelona and Bayern, despite some initial scepticism.

Guardiola has said in the past that he is "not a policeman" and has "no urge to go and check up on my players" but he and his assistants at Barcelona were known at times to make late-night calls to ensure players were at home at the stipulated times, usually by midnight at the latest, and not taking liberties or flouting the rules.

Players who failed to answer calls and could not provide an adequate explanation as to why were invariably fined.

City, who completed the £37m signing of Germany winger Leroy Sane from Schalke on a five-year deal yesterday, used to stay overnight at the Radisson Edwardian or Hilton hotel in Manchester city centre before home games. But since the end of 2014 they have mostly been sleeping at the club's CFA training base, which has accommodation for the entire first-team squad.

Sleep experts were brought in to design the décor in the CFA's four-star rooms, which are complete with en-suite bathrooms and king-sized beds.

It is tradition for most top flight clubs across Europe's major leagues to get together the night before games, but former Barcelona midfielder Xavi credits Guardiola's decision to let players stay at home the night before games at the Nou Camp with having a liberating effect on the team.

"For me, two of the most important novelties were the move to the training ground and getting rid of the hotel meetings," Xavi said in Guillem Balague's biography Pep Guardiola: Another Way Of Winning.

Guardiola has wasted little time implementing changes at City. Midfielder Samir Nasri is one of a handful of players who have been barred from training with the first team squad after being categorised as overweight and various foods and drinks have been banned.

Other policies, similar to those he put in place at Barcelona and Bayern, are likely to be introduced, too, such as instructing players to sign in an hour before training and having a sliding scale of fines for turning up late for training or breaching other rules.

Meanwhile, City's efforts to finalise the £26m signing of Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras are being held up by the Brazil U-23 striker's involvement at the Olympics.

There have been suggestions in Spain that Barcelona have not given up hope of hijacking the deal at the 11th hour and are keen for Neymar to try to sweet-talk his compatriot into moving to the Nou Camp instead but City remain optimistic of completing a deal for the 19-year-old.

Elsewhere, Hibernian have launched an appeal after manager Neil Lennon was hit with a five-match UEFA ban after being charged with "acts of violence against the referee".

Irish Independent

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