MANCHESTER: Wayne Rooney received support from an unlikely source when Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola revealed Friday he too drank alcohol while on international duty.
England captain Rooney publicly apologised after pictures taken in the early hours of the morning of him at a wedding party at the team hotel following a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland at Wembley last week were published by the Sun newspaper.
The Football Association, England’s governing body has reminded the Manchester United skipper of his responsibilities and plan to review their policy of giving players free time on international duty amid allegations of excessive drinking.
“I was an international player when in my period as a football player, and sometimes I drank as well,” said former Spain midfielder Guardiola. “So I was lucky, no pictures, no selfies or things like that.
“I was responsible, you are responsible, and Wayne was responsible for that. I don’t think the association has to be responsible for that. We are people and old enough to take our responsibilities.
“Everyone is entitled to a private life so we have to respect what other people do.”
City, who are third in the Premier League, face Crystal Palace on Saturday and Guardiola said he had no fresh injury concerns ahead of a match that sees the resumption of top-flight club action following a round of international fixtures .
But the former Barcelona player and manager lamented the impact of the international break on his squad, particularly on those travelling long distances.
“The players came back good, fit,” explained Guardiola. “Players who played 90 minutes and another 90 minutes are tired, especially the South American players.
“But even the English and even the German players, but that is normal, so we will decide. But they are fit, no injuries, that is the most important thing.
“Today in football the schedule is so stressful for the players. It is so demanding. That is why you have to handle that sometimes when you are see they are down to take them up and then every player is different to the other ones.”
– ‘Unstoppable’ Benteke –
He added: “Some when they come back from the national team their regeneration is quicker than the other ones, for the physical condition, for many many things.
“I am still getting to know my players, how they react after that situation. But it is important they come back good.”
Turning to Saturday’s match, Guardiola said a trip to Palace would prove a test of City’s title credentials even though the south London club are just a point above the relegation zone.
“It will be a really tough game,” said Guardiola of a match at Selhurst Park against a Palace side managed by Alan Pardew.
“The coach has a lot of experience in England. They play a lot with Christian Benteke, second balls with all the wingers, with Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha.
“They are fast and good one against one. Yohan Cabaye is an exceptional player so it will be a tough game.
“The toughest games we will play now are away. We know the situation. We want to be there, stay there with the big teams in the Premier League. We have to win.
“They (Palace) cross a lot. Benteke in the box is unstoppable.
“Every game is different. Maybe they make the best performance ever (on Saturday) or maybe not.
“This kind of thing does not depend upon the position they are in now.”