The dull tedium of pre-season friendlies should have ended last weekend.
The Premier League returned in spectacular fashion thanks to Olivier Giroud’s late winner, Jonjo Shelvey’s moment of madness and Romelu Lukaku’s imposing brace.
Ultra-competitive football is now at the forefront of every manager in league’s mind.
Except Pep Guardiola.
The Man City boss has whisked his squad off to Catalonia for what we’re reluctantly calling an early-season friendly against Girona.
The match is part of an intensive training camp designed to galvanise the squad further ahead of a testing Premier League season.
Bernardo Silva, Fabian Delph, Ilkay Gundogan and others missed out on the pre-season tour to America so Guardiola has made the unusual decision to extend his preparations beyond the actual start of the season.
City have what you would call a ‘good relationship’ with Girona.
The Catalan club have been owned by Guardiola’s brother since 2015 and have had several City players on loan in the last the past.
Olarenwaju Kayode, Alex Garcia, Marlos Moreno, Douglas Luiz and Pablo Maffeo will all be on loan at Girona this season for the club’s first ever campaign in La Liga having won promotion last term.
Some fans may be concerned about the threat of unnecessary injuries but the club believe the extra game and training camp experience as a whole will benefit the squad.
Guardiola could use the game to reintroduce Ilkay Gundogan to the first team.
The German midfielder has been out for eight months with a cruciate knee ligament injury but has travelled with the squad.
Kyle Walker is the only high-profile player not currently in Catalonia.
The £50million right-back requested the time off for personal reasons.
The squad fly back to Manchester on Thursday evening ahead of their first home game of the season against Everton on Monday night.
City are many bookies’ favourites to win the title this season and began their campaign with a hard-fought win away to newly-promoted Brighton.
Chris Hughton’s side had only 22% possession and frustrated City for 70 minutes before the ever reliable Sergio Aguero broke the deadlock after a neat pass from David Silva.
Mid-season friendlies, they’re all the rage… apparently.