It is hardly the first time we have heard from a Premier League manager that the festive fixtures are far too close together and congested, with League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League games all featuring in addition to the domestic league fixtures from the start of December until just after New Year – but some complaints are far more viable than others.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal may be experiencing his first season in England, but he is pulling no punches with his thoughts on the lack of a European break or even a lull in fixtures when most people are off work and at home with their families.
The United boss claimed: ‘I have a wife, kids and grandchildren, and I cannot see them at Christmas,
‘But I want to work in the Premier League, so I have to adapt, and I shall adapt,
‘I am not happy – but I cannot change it – I don’t think it is good for the players.’
Now normally, we might have some sympathy for a Manchester United manager over fixture congestion – but not this season.
United have to play four matches in nine days – which is not really that different compared to most sides over this period of time and frankly, is not even that many in the context of a season as a whole.
The majority of United’s rivals have it far worse than they do, with league leaders Chelsea facing the harshest schedule of the bunch being in all four competitions and twice having to play two teams in the space of three days – and tough away trips throughout their schedule. Liverpool also have to contend with such a fixture list and will be rolling their eyes at the latest remark from United.
Even Newcastle have it worse than United, given they are still in the Capital One Cup – and teams in the Europa League face the nightmare of the Thursday / Sunday scheduling with games coming thick and fast and domestic competitions really beginning to take their toll.
Given United do not have to worry about the Champions League and have not all season – not to mention the fact that the League Cup burden came and went a while back to boot, Van Gaal really does not have a leg to stand on. In fact, this is the time when he should be looking at his rival sides for a position in the top four and hoping that they drop points, pick up injuries or suffer from a lack of form.
The Red Devils may even get exceptionally lucky and see Chelsea fail to hold on to their lead at the top of the table and come out of the New Year with a chance at the title after all.
Of course, the majority of what comes from a manager’s mouth when speaking to the media is generally all about mind games – but in this case, Van Gaal needs to keep his mouth closed and focus on letting his rivals slip up – and make sure he is there to capitalise on that.
Manchester United fans. Is Van Gaal right to take issue with the lack of a winter break or is he simply delusional? Let us know your thoughts below, become a guest blogger or tweet us @LaFootyettes.