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Pep Guardiola apologizes to Kalvin Phillips for overweight dig

Published: Updated: 08:24, 20 Feb 2024
Phillips was criticized for being overweight by Manchester City manager

Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has issued a belated apology to midfielder Kalvin Phillips for his comments about the player's weight after returning from World Cup duty with England in December 2022. This article will delve into the details of this incident and its impact on both parties involved.

Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, said:

“Yeah, I’m sorry. Once in eight years is not bad. But I’m so sorry. I apologise to him,”

“I spoke to him before [making the comment]. I never, ever don’t speak to the team before I say something here, or the player in that case.”

Guardiola had publicly criticized Phillips for being overweight upon his return from international duty. This comment sparked controversy and backlash, particularly affecting Phillips' confidence and upsetting his family. In a recent interview, the 28-year-old admitted that while Guardiola was right to point out his weight issue, he could have approached it differently.

The criticism took a toll on Phillips' self-confidence

Phillips' performance has been under scrutiny since joining Manchester City in July 2022 for £42m from Leeds United. Despite being a mainstay in Gareth Southgate’s England squad prior to his move to Manchester City, he managed only two league starts during an unfortunate 18-month spell at Etihad Stadium.

The midfielder agreed last month on a loan move to West Ham until the end of the season but has had an unimpressive start with two high-profile errors leading to goals against them. His struggles were further compounded when he received a red card during Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

Phillips also spoke about the misunderstanding that led to conflict

Phillips described the incident as "a misunderstanding" and suggested that Guardiola was frustrated with him coming back 1.5kg over his weight target after World Cup matches. However, it is clear that this public criticism had significant effects on him both personally and professionally.

While managers have every right - even responsibility - to ensure their players maintain optimal fitness levels for peak performance, they must also consider how their words can affect players’ mental health and overall well-being.

This incident serves as a reminder of the delicate balance that needs to be maintained in professional sports between performance expectations and player welfare. It also highlights the importance of open communication and understanding between players and their managers, to avoid such misunderstandings in the future.

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