Premier League English

Pep Guardiola offers apologies to Kalvin Phillips for ‘overweight’ comment

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has tendered his apologies to Kalvin Phillips, no won loan with West Ham, for having publicly commented that he had returned from the Qatar World Cup overweight.

The ‘overweight’ comment was made by Guardiola in a press conference in December 2022, after having left the City and England midfielder out of a Carabao Cup tie against Liverpool.

Phillips joined West Ham on loan in January earlier this month and told the Observer that “after the World Cup was probably the toughest, when Pep came out and said I was overweight.”

He then added: “I did not disagree with him but obviously I took a big knock on my confidence and how I felt at City.”

At a press conference on Monday Guardiola was asked if he regretted having gone public about Phillips’ weight, and the Spaniard said: “Yeah, I’m sorry.

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

Guardiola, however, emphasised that he had spoken to Phillips before making the public comment about his weight, saying: “I never, never before I said something here [that I] did not speak with the players in that case.”

The former Barcelona boss was speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League home clash with Brentford, who City had beaten 3-1 at the Gtech Community Stadium on 5 February.

That match saw a fractiouos incident where City defender Kyle Walker responded in anger to something Neal Maupay, the forward on loan with the Bees from Everton, had said to him in the closing stages.

Guardiola said: “I don’t want it but sometimes there is emotions and it happens, and you know that. But this (incident) is forgotten. It happened, I think they talked and that’s all.”

Asked how he dealt with players verbally winding him up during his days on the pitch, the former Barcelona midfielder said: “It depended on my mood!

“Listen, in my period in Barcelona I am in the history for having the record of the most yellow cards conceded. All the time it was for talk, talk, talk.

“So it depends, sometimes I controlled (myself), sometimes (I was) being crazy. People say ‘ah, he cannot control’. As a football player I was the same.”

Third-placed City’s fixture on Tuesday is a game in hand over leaders Liverpool and second-placed Arsenal, with the defending champions being four and two points behind, respectively.

Guardiola’s treble-winners saw an 11-match winning run in all competitions come to an end with Saturday’s 1-1 league draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.