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Guardiola wants end to FA Cup replays

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Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola wants FA Cup replays scrapped, arguing they add too many extra games to an already-congested schedule.

Guardiola has claimed English football authorities have ignored a request from managers to reduce the load on players, suggesting those responsible for running the game are too busy thinking about commercial demands.

The Football Association scrapped replays for the final in 1998, for the semi-finals in 1999, and for the quarter-finals at the start of last season.

Yet Guardiola, who takes his quadruple-chasing team to Cardiff City for a fourth-round tie on Sunday, wants them to go further still.

“I would like the Carabao Cup (English League Cup) semi-final to be one game (rather than over two legs), and I would like the FA Cup ties to be one game and no replays, like I think all the managers do. But that is not going to happen. That is not going to change.

 ‘Business show’ 

“We are going to play in ties and have replays and have extra-time, and that is going to happen in the future.”

Asked if he felt there was anything that managers could do to rectify that situation, the Spaniard said: “Absolutely not. The business show must go on.

“All the managers say there are a lot of games, and no time for recovery. There are a lot of injuries. We know that there are a lot of games. It’s what it is.

“We had meetings in pre-season with the big bosses, and all the managers spoke about that. And they listened, and that’s all,” added the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, who was speaking before top-flight rivals Tottenham Hotspur were taken to a FA Cup replay after a 1-1 draw away to fourth-tier Newport County on Saturday.

Meanwhile Guardiola said City would need to spend significantly more than they have already to assemble a squad capable of completing an unprecedented quadruple of Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup in one season.

“When you want to handle four competitions, sometimes you have to be lucky, or you need 22 top players,” Guardiola explained. “To have 22 top players, you need the money we don’t have. That’s so expensive.”

Guardiola insisted the club’s board had told him that even City, owned by the billionaire politician and businessman Sheikh Mansour, could not afford the kind of outlay required to build such a squad.

‘Even City cannot pay’ 

“Even City don’t have that money. There are salaries we cannot pay. There are transfer fees we cannot pay.

“Maybe in the future it is going to happen, but we have not paid more than £100 million ($142 million, 114 million euros) for one player, or £90 million, or £80 million. We cannot pay that right now. They (the board) told me. We cannot.

“To be in four competitions, you need time to recover, and if you have games every three days, we need 20 top players, 22 top players. It’s impossible to have 22 top players today. That’s why we have academies, and have to fight to find players.

“Of course, we spend a lot of money, but it’s the same money as a lot of other teams. I can assure you that we are not the only team in the world who spend money. There are many.”

Guardiola, meanwhile, has indicated he is likely to start next season with an under-strength squad, because he will give players at the World Cup time oto recover.

This year’s tournament in Russia will not finish until July 15, four weeks before the start of the Premier League season.

“I am pretty sure that the guys who go to the World Cup, they will have a minimum of three weeks to one month off,” Guardiola said.

“If we cannot play good games in the pre-season, in the United States or China, or wherever we are going to be, I’m sorry.

“They deserve a break because after a tough season, and then going to the World Cup, it’s so demanding.”



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