Jose Mourinho slams schedule as Tottenham forced to play on Sunday before Champions League last 16

Dan Kilpatrick
Evening Standard

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has ramped up his criticism of Premier League for the scheduling of Sunday's match against Aston Villa.

Spurs face Villa at 2pm on Sunday, barely 72 hours before their Champions League last-16 first leg at home to Bundesliga flyers RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

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Leipzig, by contrast, host Werder Bremen on Saturday afternoon.

Mourinho has already complained that the scheduling has diluted the benefit of the so-called winter-break, which was cut short for Spurs due to the FA Cup fourth-round replay against Southampton.

Mourinho has been an entrenched critic of the Premier League's failure to help his clubs in Europe with more beneficial scheduling and he was in a conspiratorial mood ahead of the trip to Villa, claiming “some big clubs somehow manage to have better fixtures” than Spurs.

Pushed for an example, he was happy to oblige, saying: "Friday night, Leicester vs Wolves. Why?

"Do they have a Champions League game next week? No. Not Leicester, not Wolves. Wolves has a Europa League game on the Thursday.

"We are the team in England that plays a Champions League game on Tuesday; we don't play Friday, we don't play Saturday, we play Sunday. I don't think it is normal.”

Tottenham’s match against Villa was moved from February 8 to accommodate the winter break and has been picked for broadcasting by Sky Sports.

Mourinho continued: "You can tell me it was because your game was chosen to be on TV on Sunday at 12 o'clock [sic] and I ask you, in the other five matches of the Premier League this weekend, there is not another one that could be played on Sunday? It's as simple as that.

"That's the only thing I say – there is no care. They just chose what they want and they don't think how they can hurt an English team. And in this case we are going to be hurt because we are going to play on Sunday 2 o'clock when we could perfectly play on Saturday or Friday night?"

This complaint has been a common refrain from Mourinho since he moved to Chelsea in 2004 and asked if his lobbying had ever made a difference, he replied simply: "No chance."

The Portuguese added: "It’s a very difficult week for us, and then of course we would like to play Chelsea on the Sunday after Leipzig, but no [we play] on Saturday.

"And we would like to play Saturday 5pm – but instead we play 12 o’clock. So it’s a really hard week for us – Sunday Villa, Wednesday Leipzig, Saturday Chelsea."

Mourinho added that it would be "unnecessary" for the Football Association to ban Dele Alli for his Snapchat video mocking the coronavirus outbreak and a man of Asian appearance. The FA have opened an investigation and could charge Alli with discriminatory conduct.

"I feel that would be unnecessary, but I am nobody," Mourinho said. "I think it is unnecessary because the player understands the naivety of the situation, the player is a good guy, the player even in the dressing room has a big Asian friend that he loves [Heung-min Son]. So there was no intention at all. He immediately regrets, immediately makes a public apology. I feel it is unnecessary but I am nobody.

"I think he learned the lesson immediately with the embarrassment and he didn’t need much time to realise again the childish or naivety of the situation. I feel unnecessary. I don’t feel we need more than that."

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