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Pep Guardiola finally apologises to Kalvin Phillips after jibe at West Ham loanee | Football | Sport



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That followed a spell of just 16 Premier League appearances since moving to City from Leeds for £42million in the summer of 2022. And despite playing a part in the club’s historic treble-winning campaign, his relationship with the Spanish manager deteriorated after he’d gone with England to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Phillips allegedly returned from international duty, where the Three Lions made the quarter-final before being beaten by France, around 1.5 kilograms overweight. Guardiola openly informed the press of his discontent over the player’s condition, with Phillips conceding the remarks impacted both him and his family.

“After the World Cup was probably the toughest (spell at Man City), when Pep came out and said I was overweight,” he said, following his switch to West Ham. “He was right to do so, but there are different ways to go about it. I didn’t disagree with him but obviously I took a big knock on my confidence and how I felt at City. My family weren’t happy about it, either – especially my mum.”

Phillips duly endured stick from opposition fans, and now Guardiola has conceded his actions were wrong, albeit with an air of defiance. “Yeah, I’m sorry,” he said in a press conference on Monday. “Once in eight years is not bad. But I’m so sorry. I apologise to him. I do apologise. I’m so sorry.”

He did however, insist that the pair had discussed the problem before he went public, despite Phillips previously insisting the criticism caught him off-guard. “Oh no, I spoke about that,” said Guardiola. “Yeah, before our game, I spoke to him. I never, never before said something here without speaking with the players in that case.”

If the move to London was meant to rejuvenate Phillips however, it’s thus far been signified by harrowing moments. He made an error on debut that gifted the opening goal to Bournemouth in a 1-1 draw, and his three appearances since have yielded chastening defeats to Man United, Arsenal, and Nottingham Forest.

David Moyes’ side have shipped 11 goals in that trio of games, and against Forest, Phillips was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in three second-half minutes. He’ll now miss the game with Brentford on February 26.

Despite his career having seemingly derailed in the past 18 months, Gareth Southgate has constantly named the England 2021 Player of the Year in his international squads. But ahead of friendlies with Brazil and Belgium at March, as part of the side’s preparations for Euro 2024, the manager is facing renewed calls to axe the star.

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