DANNY MURPHY: Stop moaning about fixture congestion and get on with it! Managers are giving players an excuse to miss games by whingeing about tiredness… top teams have more than enough depth to cope with fatigue
- It has been disappointing to see managers complaining about the fixture pile-up
- Premier League generates huge money, which should motivate stars to play
- Managers are giving their players an excuse to miss games with their moaning
- When I was at Liverpool, I played 119 games in two years but never needed a rest
I’ve been disappointed to hear the amount of whingeing about fixture congestion, particularly from Premier League managers.
They wouldn’t earn the big money without TV rights being sold around the world, so they can’t have it both ways. I accept Covid is a factor — and there are some genuine cases of teams being unable to fulfil commitments — but a lot of the arguments I’m hearing from Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp and others don’t wash.
If players were asked if they wanted to play over Christmas, I’m sure the vast majority would say ‘yes’. Dealing with the current situation positively would be more productive than clubs moaning.
It’s been disappointing to hear bosses like Jurgen Klopp whingeing about fixture congestion
My Liverpool side played 63 games in 2001, winning three cup competitions, and one of the reasons for our success is that Gerard Houllier presented it as a challenge rather than a negative.
Moving into 2022, my advice for managers would be to stop giving their players an excuse by frequently talking about fatigue and tiredness. The top teams have strong squads packed with international players. If you’re missing a few, use the ones available and jump over the hurdle.
We saw last week how Southampton battled with 10 men to draw with Spurs a few days after winning at West Ham, while Leicester beat Liverpool having just visited Manchester City. It proved that a tough run of games doesn’t have to break your spirit, creativity and concentration.
Leicester’s win over Liverpool shows a tough run of games doesn’t have to break your spirit
I earned good money as a player and realised I was benefiting from the high global demand for English football. I recognised my part of the bargain was turning up and performing regardless of when and where the next match took place.
At one stage, I played 119 games in two seasons but it never once occurred to me that I should demand a rest.
I feel sorry for clubs who have genuinely needed games to be postponed because there is a suspicion others have tried to jump on the bandwagon. The request by Crystal Palace to have their game at Spurs called off was strange as they ended up making only one change from their previous match.
It feels like the arguments about Covid and our traditional Christmas fixture list are being blurred with this used as a reason to try to permanently remove a fixture from the holiday programme. Players will feel leggy after so many games in a short period but it’s not as though this happens every month.
Managers should not be giving players excuses by constantly talking about tiredness
Cries of ‘too many matches’ doesn’t sit well with me – show some resilience and get on with it
Most managers have criticised the calendar, so it was refreshing to hear David Moyes say he was looking forward to the fixtures.
As a Liverpool fan, it was interesting to see they had last weekend off against Leeds while Leicester were mixing it with Manchester City. The player welfare argument would suggest a rested Liverpool would have the advantage at the King Power Stadium. But it was Leicester who won by digging deep and producing a brilliant performance.
I’m afraid the cries of ‘too many matches’ doesn’t sit well with me. The statistics indicate players aren’t covering more distance than a decade ago and since then we’ve cancelled cup replays.
So show a bit of resilience and unless you genuinely can’t field a team due to Covid, get on with it.
CLUBS ARE FEELING THE PAIN
The number of Premier League injuries shot up by more than a third during December, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Research by Premier Injuries reveals a 35 per cent increase on the number of players missing through injury last month compared with the average for the same period over the last five seasons.
There was an eight per cent rise in injuries over the first half of the season compared with the past five campaigns and a 28 per cent increase in the number of players out with illness, including Covid, over the same period.
The figures will lend weight to warnings’ from managers such as Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel that players’ welfare are being put at risk. Fellow-managers David Moyes and Steven Gerrard joined them yesterday in calling for the reintroduction of the five-substitute limit.
Sean Dyche, meanwhile, added his name to those who have said they would support an extension to the season to ease the congested schedule.
‘We don’t know how far it’s going to go but as more games get called off, it’s fair to imagine,’ he said.
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