Are top managers right to complain about the fixture schedule?

With Christmas fast approaching, the Premier League fixture schedule is about to get hectic with clubs looking to play 2-3 games a week as we go into the new year. For the fans, having football live on television almost everyday through the festive period is great but for the players, not so much!

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are just two managers who have constantly complained about the fixture schedule with clubs having an increased schedule due to the amount of competitions and the uncertainly on the new season due to the Coronavirus but are they right to complain?

I’ve got 25 hours now to prepare for a game. Whatever I say doesn’t help so I’ll stop talking about it. It changes nothing. It’s just a waste of time

Jurgen Klopp speaking to TalkSport

It’s hard to state a case for the fixture schedule due to the number of competitions. Liverpool are one example of a club that could end up playing a number of competitions through the festive period. On top of the Premier League, the Reds are also in the UEFA Champions League and will soon have the Emirates FA Cup upon them. The same applies to Manchester City but instead they have an increased schedule with 9-games in December compared to Liverpool’s 8.

They have a point with the schedule. The players are only human and an increased schedule with less recovery time could prove dangerous. Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld was one player that suffered from an muscular injury due to the amount of games he played. More players may follow so clubs have to be careful.

The phrase “Can you do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke” is a familiar phrase in English football and is the judgement of quality within a squad but could these professionals do it on a cold Tuesday night in Southend? Up and down the country, Non-league footballers have it tougher. On top of having to work during the week, they only have the opportunity to train once a week and currently play two-games a week due to the 2020/21 season being delayed and the suspension of the season (which could see clubs play as many as 3-games). Add to that the lack of facilities if a player needs to recover or becomes injury, the average semi-professional footballer certainly has it tougher.

Clubs like Liverpool and Manchester City have huge squads. The Reds have 30 players in their squad meaning they can form 2 starting XI’s and still have 8 players spare whilst City can also form two squads but have 9 left over. The argument can also be shown at the bottom end of the table. West Brom Albion have 3 less players than the Blues but still could have 5 players left after forming two teams. For non-league clubs, they would love to have the options of two starting XI’s plus more but that isn’t possible.

For professional players, it’s their job. To be an athlete and compete is what they chose to do. There are plenty of non-league players who would love to do that very job and would accept a lot less. Do runners at the Olympics complain if they have a race every 3-days and little time to recover? In this case it’s hard to look in favour of professional sides who complain.