Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips has revealed he found it difficult to hear his manager Pep Guardiola call him “overweight” in the media last season.
Guardiola dropped Phillips for a Carabao Cup last-16 tie in December 2022 against Liverpool because he wasn’t fit enough for the game.
Before the game, Guardiola said: “He’s not injured. He arrived overweight. I don’t know [why]. He didn’t arrive in the condition to do training sessions and to play.”
Phillips started just four games for Manchester City in all competitions during the 2022/23 season, despite joining from Leeds United for £45m last summer. He has now responded to his manager’s comments, though, suggesting that while it hurt to hear, he worked as hard as possible to prove him wrong.
“It was a little hard to take just because of how much it was oversized and how many people started talking about it,” Phillips told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“For me, I wasn’t overweight, but obviously the manager has seen it in a very different way. I just took it and did my best to get as fit as possible.
“I was on the bench for the Leeds game straight after that and I was fit every match since then. It was just one of those things, it was a misunderstanding from me and some staff members. You will see a lot more in the documentary.”
That documentary, Kalvin Phillips: The Road to City, charts the Englishman’s first season at the Etihad Stadium and will air on Amazon Prime on July 19.
After struggling to break into the Manchester City first team, speculation has suggested Phillips will leave in search of more regular minutes in the 2023/24 season. West Ham United have been the most heavily linked club after losing Declan Rice, though the 27-year-old looks determined to be a more important member of Guardiola’s squad.
“At Leeds it was very different for me because I was playing every single game and I knew that no matter what I would probably be in the starting line-up,” he said. “Now it has kind of changed, where I am not expecting to be in the team or expecting to start.
“But if I don’t start I am going to push to try and get myself involved a lot more. Obviously I would love to play a lot more, be involved in the team a lot more and winning games, but I know how difficult it is and I hope this season is a lot better for me in that way.”
More Manchester City stories
Jude Bellingham reportedly turned down the new European champions after taking inspiration from Erling Haaland’s career path – though Alphonso Davies could move to the Etihad Stadium. Bernardo Silva, meanwhile, is a target for Saudi Arabia.
Pep Guardiola’s side want to smash their transfer record to bring in Josko Gvardiol in defence, though, having already signed Matteo Kovacic this summer.