Man City's Brian Marwood: Internationals killing league

By Richard Conway BBC Sport

Manchester City's top football administrator has warned that too much international football is in danger of "killing" the Premier League.

Brian Marwood said unreasonable demands are being made of players in England.

"You just have to look at the audience figures around the world to know that it [the Premier League] is a much-wanted product," he told BBC Sport.

"But we're in danger of killing that product if we're going to ask too much of our players."

City's chief football administration officer acknowledged that even though his club are in a privileged position because of their squad size, the "talent" at his and other sides could still be affected to the detriment of the league.

He said: "We're in a very fortunate position at Manchester City. We have a strong squad, a large squad, one that has fared very well in terms of injuries this year. And we've had the chance to rest players at certain moments.

"There are other clubs who haven't been able to enjoy that. You're always loading and putting strain on players and there will be a breaking point. There will be an inevitable breaking point.

"I respect and understand people's agendas. But I think the important thing through all this is that we're providing something that's quite unique and special to millions and millions of people through the talent that we have performing.

"And if we damage that talent - and we're in danger of doing that by asking too much of them - then it is a very serious concern."

Earlier this week, football's governing body Fifa stated it had made "major" progress towards a deal to cut the number of international fixtures.

But Marwood cited the recent Africa Cup of Nations as an example of how he believes international fixtures are in need of further reform.

"Just recently you had the Africa Cup of Nations, which is a bizarre situation where you're going to lose players through the season for up to five or six weeks," he said. "That's wrong. That's completely wrong.

"Somebody somewhere has got to try to bring all these parties together and start thinking seriously about what we're putting our players through."

Despite such concerns, Marwood has watched City's players engineer a two-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table and he was quick to acknowledge what winning the top-flight title would mean to the club - a feat they last managed in 1968.external-link

"It would be a huge achievement [to win the Premier League]," he said.

"But it's not about what we do just this year, it's about what we do for the next five to 10 years."

Key to that progression will be the club's training and academy complex, which is being constructed on a large expanse of industrial wasteland close to Etihad Stadium.

He said: "We've had over 30 players that have come through the academy and go into our first team. But we need to keep moving it on.

"If we are to play in the Champions League on a regular basis we need to produce Champions League footballers.

"We've made enormous changes in developing young players and only time will tell if that policy will be successful."

The duty of care that the club owes to young players at their academy also weighs heavily on Marwood. Equally so, the responsibilities that players owe to the club.

"We need players to understand there are certain values and certain behaviours that they need to adhere to," he added.

"I think that we can begin to have an impact - all clubs, not just Man City - all clubs can begin to have an impact in that area if we can get to them much earlier.

"We can shape and mould them in a way that we believe that not only are we producing great footballers but we're also producing great people."

For now, Marwood is firmly fixed on helping City clinch the league title. As a player he won a championship medal with Arsenal in 1989 but feels matching the feat with City would rank higher as an achievement.

"I think that for me personally it would probably mean more for this to happen here," he said.

"Not that I didn't appreciate what came my way at Arsenal as a player. But I think this is different because there are so many areas that I have to consider and make sure they are operating effectively."

Arsenal famously won the league that year by beating title rivals Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield in the final game of the season. But that's something Marwood is not keen to repeat.

"It came down to the last minute of the last game on the last day of the season," he said.

"Certainly for my own blood pressure and nerves it would be nice to think that if we were to win, it would be done much earlier than that."

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