For once Mourinho, Wenger agree – EPL festive fixture list was unfair
LONDON: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, pictured, repeated his complaints about the Premier League’s festive fixture pile-up after his side laboured to a 2-0 win at 10-man West Ham United on Monday.
The Portuguese coach blamed United’s mixed performance on having to play their second game in three days, the trip to London coming barely 48 hours after a stirring 2-1 comeback win at home to Middlesbrough.
“It’s very difficult to play football in these circumstances within 48 hours. It’s amazing for the fans around the world, everybody has the Premier League, I’m more than happy to do that but it’s very hard for the players,” Mourinho told reporters.
He again aired his complaints that league leaders Chelsea have two days more to rest before visiting Tottenham Hotspur, United’s rivals for a top-four finish, today.
“We go step-by-step, we try to win our matches. But in relation to Tottenham v Chelsea, I hope it’s an amazing match, they are two great teams with the privilege nobody else has so they are fresh” he added.
Mourinho’s counterpart at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger agreed saying the Premier League’s selling out to TV has made this the most uneven Christmas schedule ever. The Gunners manager found it ‘unbelievable’ that his team had to play two games in three days while others are in more privileged positions.
Wenger’s side beat Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon and visited Bournemouth last night.
Premier League table-toppers Chelsea, meanwhile, are enjoying three days off to rest. They played Stoke at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and don’t travel to Tottenham until tonight.
“In 20 years it is the most uneven Christmas period I’ve seen,” Wenger said. “The difference in rest period is unbelievable. It’s more we have sold the rights to TV for a lot of money so we have to accept TV chooses the games. But some teams have more luck than others.”
Meanwhile referee Mike Dean harshly sent off West Ham winger Sofiane Feghouli in the 15th minute for a challenge on Phil Jones but United needed until the 63rd to open the scoring through Juan Mata, who converted fellow substitute Marcus Rashford’s cross.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was offside in scoring the second while United, who got a seventh straight win in all competitions for the first time since 2010/11, were helped by three saves from David de Gea, who denied Michail Antonio just before Mata scored.
“It’s not just hard for the team with 10 (players) but hard for the team with 11. When you have one more player you also need to think well. My players were too tired to think well, we had lots of bad decisions” Mourinho added.
“When you are fresh you play simple, when you are not fresh you play complicated.
“In the first half everything was complicated. Only when I brought on fresh people, Mata, Rashford, the team was different.
“We had width with Rashford, an extra player creating, and we deserved to win, but I’m going to be honest, if Antonio scores I don’t think we win.”