Not so merry: Unhappy Premier League managers on festive fixtures

Holiday football fixtures may be entertainment for fans but pose workload concerns to team bosses, many of whom have made their displeasure loud and clear.

Christmas day fixtures have often invited the scorn of Premier League managers.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Boxing Day fixtures and football over the New Year have been a big part of the English football culture much to the chagrin of the managers of the Premier League teams.

While it serves as live entertainment on the TV over the holiday period, three matches in the space of a week become a workload concern for the bosses of the teams.

Over the years, managers have requested the Premier League for a winter break at the end of December. On average a team plays six matches during the month while some teams play a maximum of eight matches based on their involvement in continental and domestic cup competitions.

Here's what a few of them had to say:

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Liverpool gaffer Jurgen Klopp has been a vocal critic of the lack of a winter break for teams, keeping workload concerns in mind, more so this season.   -  Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp

This year, 2018-19 Champions League winner Liverpool will play nine matches owing to its participation in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who previously coached in the Bundesliga, has been a big advocate for a winter break in the Premier League, similar to the ones in the other top four European Leagues.

 

Into his first year in England, Klopp lambasted at the congested Christmas fixture schedule for his side. “I understand tradition but now having a matchday with two days between there should be another possibility. I don't know why we play Monday. Is January 2 a special day in England?" he asked in October 2016.

He added, “Forty-eight hours between two games - how does this work? Ask what other big countries are doing at this time - they have their legs on the sofa and are watching English football."

Here are the other managers, both past and present, who have voiced their concerns over the festive fixtures.

READ : You all like watching us suffer - Klopp hits out at poorly planned schedule

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Even Fergie can't get time to stop for the players in the Premier League. He does have an idea though.   -  Getty Images



Alex Ferguson

The legendary former Manchester United boss said, “"You could keep the Christmas fixtures as they are, but stagger one round of 10 matches throughout January," he said in 2008.

"Three games could be played on the first weekend, a further three on the next weekend and the final four on the third weekend. TV broadcasters would not lose out because they can show matches each weekend, and players could rest. Also, last season the league finished on May 11. Why can't we extend it until the end of that month and take two weeks off in January.”

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It's all about tradition for former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who has given Christmas and year-end holiday fixtures a thumbs up.   -  Getty Images

Arsene Wenger

“I would cry if you changed that [festive fixtures] because it’s part of English tradition and English football,” Wenger, who managed Arsenal to three Premier League titles, said in 2015. “It’s a very important part of us being popular in the world, that nobody works at Christmas and everybody watches the Premier League.

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When at the helm at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho scoffed at the scheduling of Premier League fixtures, hinting at a possible bias.   -  Getty Images

 

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho during his time as Manchester United boss, too, had a go at the Christmas calendar.

"There are clearly the ones that are really privileged and there are clearly another group of the ones that are really punished by the decisions of the calendar and there are another group in the middle of it, where I would like to be," said Mourinho.

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Leicester City gaffer Brendan Rodgers called out the scheduling of the Premier League for giving players barely any time to recover from one game before heading into another.   -  Getty Images

 

Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers’ Leicester City has had an incredible run to second on the points table behind leader Liverpool. On Boxing Day, Leicester will host the table-topper on Thursday night before travelling to face West Ham United on Saturday.

“You play on the 26th, you're going to play a high-intensity game here against Liverpool, fighting for the result,” said Rodgers.

He added, "In football, it's the second day where the players suffer. You get that first day of recovery but it's the second day where it's really tough for a player. If we go along that route then the second day, instead of recovering, we're kicking off at 17:30 [local time] at West Ham.

"It's just nonsense, really.”

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Pep Guardiola has given the Premier League's fixtures a cold shoulder.   -  Getty Images

 

Pep Guardiola

Manchester City boss Guardiola on Sunday revealed he wrote to the Premier League to express his frustration over the fixtures schedule of his team this weekend.

"I wrote a letter to the Premier League to say thank you," Guardiola added. "We're going to the fridge after Wolves to [get ready for] Sheffield [United]."

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Rafa Benitez minced no words when he hinted at scheduling bias in the League.   -  Getty Imafes

 

Rafael Benitez

During his time as the Liverpool boss, Rafael Benitez expressed his concerns on the Premier League not being a level playing field when compared with the European counterparts.

Benitez said, “I am a foreign manager and people talk about Christmas being a busy time. In Spain, it is the same, and it is good to play to keep up the tradition, but when you analyse it there is not a worse time to travel. It is something to consider because a lot of fans will be on the roads, and maybe it will be snowing, so travelling will be very difficult for them. It would be very easy to change.”

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