It was a huge sigh of relief over the weekend as Manchester City finally returned to training on Saturday after two months away from the pitch. Premier League clubs voted unanimously for a return to training ahead of a proposed resumption of league football. And that has seen several clubs take to the training pitch in anticipation of the season’s restart.
As Man City players and the management team stepped out to the City Football Academy ground for training, three things stood out.
1. A Happy Welcome Back
After more than a month of being away from each other, a sense of excitement at coming back again together could be felt among the players. Although the players could not touch each other as they trained in groups, they were obviously happy to see each other again.
For manager Pep Guardiola, it will have certainly felt good to see all of his injured players now back in training. Players like Leroy Sane, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy and John Stones were all part of the group. That’s at least a positive in the midst of the negativity brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
2. Social Distancing
Social distancing guidelines were strictly observed following Premier League regulations allowing groups of five players to train at a time. That also stipulates that three coaches oversee each session. Guardiola was spotted watching on in full protective gear. The City boss wore a full tracksuit, blue surgical gloves, face mask and a cap as he put the players through their paces.
The players worked in groups of five with one consisting of Raheem Sterling, Rodri, Gabriel Jesus, Aleks Zinchenko and Phil Foden. They all carried out running drills in a line while maintaining a two-metre distance between them.
The team was clearly complying with the Premier League’s social distancing guidelines. The players maintained a two-metre space from each other while the coaches wore face masks and gloves.
3. Fitness, the Main Focus
With no physical contact allowed, players have been focusing on fitness drills and individual ball work. Fitness training is understandably key at this point as the players need to warm up to the routine again after a relatively long period away from competitive action. Recall that Kevin De Bruyne had previously warned that a sudden return to action could lead to players sustaining severe injuries.
The players worked in groups and carried out running drills in a line while maintaining a safe distance between each other at all times. But ultimately, things will most likely pick up and more rigorous training and physical contact allowed with time if the league does resume. The German Bundesliga is leading the way in this regard as the competition has returned since the beginning of the month.
A roll call of the City players in training on Saturday includes Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Phil Foden, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Benjamin Mendy, Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez. Others are Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Aleks Zinchenko, Eric Garcia and Kyle Walker.