Jose Mourinho has again criticised the Premier League for Chelsea’s fixture congestion, describing the fact that his team have to play on Saturday despite only arriving back from Istanbul on Thursday morning as a “special situation.”
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The Blues were in Turkey for Wednesday’s 1-1 Champions League last-16 first-leg draw at Galatasaray, landing back in London at 6am the following day.
Up next for Chelsea is a trip to Fulham on Saturday, and Mourinho has argued that every other country rearranges fixtures for teams involved in European competition, with situations such as this one becoming more and more difficult to “accept.”
The Portuguese’s opposite number at Craven Cottage at the weekend, Felix Magath, has also hit out at the fixture schedule, and the Blues boss is thankful for his support.
“I think it's busy,” Mourinho said. “Not many people are honest in the way they analyse things. I have to praise Magath because he was the first one to say this is a different match because Chelsea have this situation in midweek, the special situation that the game was so far, and we don't play on Sunday.
“Sunday would be difficult. We play Saturday which is more difficult, Magath knows that. He has experience at this level, having played European competitions for many years with other clubs, so I have to praise his honesty."
Mourinho claimed he has no team news ahead of the Premier League clash because there has not been enough time to tell who of his squad has recovered from Wednesday’s game.
“I don't have [team news]. We arrived at 6 a.m. yesterday,” he said. “We didn't train -- just with four or five guys, the others doing some recovery work. And we haven't trained yet today. So I don't know.
“We all prefer to play game after game after game, but we all want to play game after game with conditions to recover, with equal conditions for every team, and no sense that a team has a privilege in the choices. Every team in the same country has the same privilege to be a little bit protected in relation to European matches.
“It makes the players' job difficult, not my job. I can play a match every day, it's not a problem for me or the people who make the fixtures. I don't run, they don't run. It's difficult for the players.”
Mourinho also pointed to the example of Frank Lampard coming out and criticising the fixture schedule as proof that it needs improving.
“When a player like Frank Lampard, who has a right to speak and has played an unbelievable number of seasons and matches in this club, and over 100 times for England, and is not the kind of player who is trying to give an opinion all the time... when a player like him, and a man like him, expresses his feelings about that, this country should listen,” he said.
“This country should listen. I repeat, it's not a problem for my legs, or those who make those decisions. It's a problem for the players' legs.
“It's Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Greece... it's everyone. And if someone says 'Friday, no,' because Friday has some implications at different levels, we accept that. But what we don't accept is why we're playing Saturday and not Sunday. Why a team who plays on Wednesday in the Champions League has to play on the Sunday before and not the Saturday...
“I'm nobody, and my legs are fresh from the last match. I didn't sleep a lot, but my legs are fresh. But for my players, it's different.”