Quick turnaround & big name exits: The pre-season story of Burnley’s opening day opponents Manchester City
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Due to the 2022 World Cup being staged in winter, that meant the Champions League final had to be pushed back to June 10.
To give you an example of how late that is, Burnley had already returned for pre-season testing – although Vincent Kompany’s men did return earlier than anyone else, with the Clarets splitting their pre-season into two parts.
Nevertheless, by the time Rodri handed City their first ever Champions League trophy in their 1-0 win over Internazionale, Burnley had already been back in training for five days.
Only 38 days separated City’s European triumph in Istanbul and their return to pre-season in mid-July – and the vast majority of their players would have been in action during the summer international break as well.
Not only that, Guardiola believes winning the treble has made life more difficult for him as City boss.
Since lifting the three trophies, City have lost the services of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Madrez, while both Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva continue to be linked with moves away.
“When you’ve won the treble, it looks like the job is done,” Guardiola recently said.
“And the players, most of the players of 32, 33 years old like Ilkay and Riyad said ‘we arrive here to win the Premier Leagues and after all the people are asking about the Champions League and it will not be complete unless we win the Champions League’.
“Some players feel, okay, I want a new experience. I will not be the guy to say no, no, no for a contract.”
Despite the big name departures, City have only made two new signings so far this summer in Croatians Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol.
Going the other way, meanwhile, has been a handful of academy graduates for good money, including goalkeeper James Trafford who could make his Burnley debut on Friday against his old club.
The Clarets have played eight friendlies this summer as part of their preparations for their Premier League return, exactly double the number City have played.
Guardiola’s side returned to action on July 23, 22 days after Burnley’s first friendly, when they beat Yokohama F. Marinos 5-3 win in Tokyo.
They followed that up with a 2-1 win over Guardiola’s former side Bayern Munich, also in Tokyo, before losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in South Korea.
City’s fourth and final pre-season encounter came on Sunday when they were beaten on penalties by Arsenal in the Community Shield.
Cole Palmer, linked with a loan move to Burnley, handed City the lead before Leandro Trossard’s deflected effort in the 111th minute took the game to penalties, where Mikel Arteta’s side emerged victorious, winning 4-1.
For City, it was the third season on the spin they’ve lost the Community Shield, a record they won’t pay too much attention to given how successful they’ve been in the major competitions.