Over the festive period, the “in thing” to do from Premier League managers seemed to be moaning about the number of games their players had to play.
Here I am, playing the world’s smallest violin as I write this article.
Some of these men are paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a week to go and kick a bag of wind about. It is their job!
But the likes of Gus Poyet and Louis van Gaal were absolutely fuming that their teams had to play four games in eight days. Tough life, hey.
Personally, I love the festive season in terms of football. It is tradition. It is a chance to watch a number of great matches, sometimes one a day!
The footballing public enjoy it too, and you can see that by some of the bumper crowds at plenty of games right across the country.
Unfortunately, several foreign managers do not see it the same way.
“It is a disgrace”, blasted Poyet, on the fact Sunderland had games on both December 26th and 28th, whilst van Gaal ranted “I think the human body cannot recover within 48 hours.”
These teams have 25 man squads (plus, particularly in Manchester United’s case, a pool of talented under-21s to choose from as well).
Neither are involved in Europe and both were knocked out of the League Cup early on, so it is not as if they have an overload of matches this season.
If this had been a League One or Two manager complaining, perhaps I would have had a little more sympathy.
Not only does, for example, a Micky Adams or John Coleman have nowhere near as much money to splash out on a huge squad – even in relative terms for the division that they are in – but they will also play many more games than United or Sunderland this season.
For starters, they have eight extra league matches, which means a number of extra mid-week fixtures. On top of that, all League One or Two sides are involved in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and they start two rounds earlier in the FA Cup.
So, let’s take Tranmere. Assuming Manchester United get past Cambridge in the FA Cup fourth round, but then get dumped out in the fifth; they will have played a total of 42 games this season. Rovers play more than that in the league alone!
In fact, after all their cup involvements this season, the Super Whites will have had 53 games – 11 more than United.
So this argument of players being too tired just does not wash with me.
Granted, if they have two games in 48 hours, I am sure they are not in peak physical condition and therefore perhaps not able to perform to the best of their ability.
But if that is the case, the manager can rotate his squad. After all, it is the same for the opposition as it is for them.
Can the majority of League One or Two sides afford that luxury? Absolutely not – and although they may have had one fewer game over Christmas, their schedule is ultimately much busier in the long run.