The extent to which Manchester City’s squad want to impress manager Pep Guardiola became clear in the first week of pre-season.
They are given regimes to follow in the week before training restarts by fitness coach Lorenzo Buenaventura and head of human performance Sam Erith.
Whereas other Premier League clubs use gadgets to monitor how hard their stars have worked in the off-season, City’s programme is optional.
Guardiola’s problem is not that players refuse to adhere to it, rather that they are doing too much work during the time off. A number of first-teamers felt niggles during the early days back. Some had run to excess or spent too long in the gym after winning a second straight Premier League title.
Those minor problems were easily dealt with — nobody has suffered an injury all summer — and validate the culture Guardiola has cultivated.
City landed back from Asia yesterday morning and are confident of a fast start against Liverpool in Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley.
Guardiola is boosted by the form of Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian was not racking up the summer miles, preferring to sandwich his international matches with family holidays in Greece and Turkey. ‘I ran the first week after the national team and then I did nothing for three weeks,’ De Bruyne said. ‘I just wanted to be away. I run a lot with the kids anyway so I burn a lot of energy, but I just wanted to be away from football. I felt it was necessary to just slow it down a bit and go again in pre-season.
‘We don’t need to beat the last two seasons. Maybe we can win this season with 85 points. It is not always about doing better because sometimes how can you do better? It is about trying to be consistent.’
Meanwhile, Guardiola is hoping for a smoother tour in America next summer. Some members of his squad have complained of sleepless nights during the fortnight in Asia.
City spent the previous two summers in the States and want to return in 2020.Daily Mail