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20th Feb 2024

Pep Guardiola apologises for Kalvin Phillips remark that went too far

Patrick McCarry

Pep Guardiola

“I do apologise to him.”

Kalvin Phillips has been offered a better late than never apology from his boss at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola.

Back in December 2022, Phillips was not long back from the World Cup, with England, when Guardiola offered an update on his availability. At this stage, the midfielder had only made a few substitute appearances. He had injured his shoulder in September of that year and was a touch-and-go World Cup selection.

Phillips did not return for City until January 2023 but Guardiola had not helped the preceding weeks with a tough take on his fitness issues. “No, no, he’s not injured,” Guardiola had told reporters. “He arrived [back] overweight.”

“He didn’t arrive in the condition to the training sessions and to play,” the Spaniard added.  “Yeah absolutely. That’s why he cannot play. When he will be ready, he will play. We need him. We need him a lot.”

In an interview with The Guardian, given after his loan move from City to West Ham, Phillips spoke of how much those Guardiola comments stung him.The City boss, for his part, held his hands up.

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola apology to Kalvin Phillips

Manchester City loaned out Kalvin Phillips to West Ham, in January, for the remainder of the 2023/24 season. The England international has most made sub appearances during his time at City, after moving from Leeds United.

Reflecting on those “overweight” remarks from Pep Guardiola, Phillips told The Guardian, “Pep was right to do so but there are different ways to go about it. I did not disagree with him but obviously, I took a big knock on my confidence and how I felt at City. And my family were not happy about it, either. Especially my mum.”

Phillips says there was “misunderstanding” over his City return date from the World Cup. Guardiola had wanted him to play in a couple of friendlies, to get back up to speed, but the player insisted the club never informed him of such plans.

He added, “‘Pep was very frustrated with me coming back 1.5kg over my weight target… I just took it on the chin. Me being the right professional, I probably should have gone in the day after the tournament finished but it’s one of those things that you live and learn. I’ve had it my whole career, especially at Leeds with Marcelo Bielsa… not being overweight but saying I need to look after myself in a professional manner.”

When those comments were raised to Guardiola by reporters, at a City press briefing, he apologised and then stressed that he would never give out personal details on a player to the press before first addressing it with the person in question.

“I’m sorry,” said Guardiola. “I do apologise to him. I’m so sorry.

“I did speak about that,” he added. “I never before said something here [to the media] without speaking to the player.”

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