MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City's players will have to spend Christmas "in the fridge" if they hope to recover between games during a packed festive fixture list, according to Pep Guardiola.
City are scheduled to face Wolves at Molineux on Dec. 27 before playing Sheffield United at the Etihad Stadium on Dec. 29. And with less than 48 hours between games, Guardiola says training and preparation will go out of the window.
"Players to the fridge," said the City boss when asked how his squad will cope with such a quick turnaround between matches.
"I'm not joking. Go home, open the fridge, and get inside for 48 hours. See you at the Etihad Stadium.
"When I open the fridge to make an omelette maybe I can talk with my players. But apart from that, no way.
"It happened in my first season here. I think we played on Dec. 31 at Anfield and then at home against Burnley [48 hours later]. It's not the first time."
City bosses have been left incensed that Liverpool have been granted an extra 24 hours rest between their Christmas fixtures. Jurgen Klopp's team play Leicester on Boxing Day and Wolves on Dec. 29 prompting Omar Berrada, the club's chief operating officer, to accuse the Premier League of threatening the "sporting integrity" of the competition.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Guardiola stopped short of adding to the criticism but did say he is concerned for his players' safety.
"I accept this business," said Guardiola. "Sometimes it's good, sometime it is not. We work harder and organise better to do it. I'm concerned for the players. It's a business.
"The people do not care about the players. He's injured? OK, another one.
"If we can't solve anything then we cannot win four titles in one season. We didn't complain.
"The broadcasters pay a lot of money. They don't look at these players or this club. What is best for my money now, to pay back, they do it. That's how it works."
Guardiola's City side did get some good news on Friday when it was revealed that Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones and Benjamin Mendy returned to training after spells out with injuries.