Mourinho: Schedule tough on players

Jose Mourinho has backed the claims of Frank Lampard that the Barclays Premier League has to do more to help clubs in Europe with fixture schedules.

Jose Mourinho of Chelsea

The Blues have little recovery time following their midweek Champions League trip to Istanbul, having arrived back in the early hours of Thursday morning, before heading into the west London derby with Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.

Mourinho's squad trained at Stamford Bridge on Friday afternoon before the players headed off to their usual pre-match hotel at Chelsea Harbour.

Clubs who play in the Europa League on Thursday evenings are allowed to push their next domestic matches back to a Sunday kick-off, but there is no such dispensation for Champions League fixtures.

The Portuguese manager, whose side are top of the Premier League, insists Lampard was right to speak out against what he sees as poor planning, with little consideration for fatigue on players.

"We all prefer to play game after game after game, but we all want to play game after game with conditions to recover, with equal conditions for every team, and no sense that a team has a privilege in the choices, and every team in the same country has the same privilege to be a little bit protected in relation to European matches," said Mourinho, who will assess the fatigue levels of his squad before making a final team selection.

"It makes the players' job difficult, not my job.

"I can play a match every day, it is not a problem for me or the people who make the fixtures. I don't run, they don't run. It's difficult for the players.

"When a player like Frank Lampard, who has a right to speak and has played an unbelievable number of seasons and matches in this club, and over 100 times for England, and is not the kind of player who is trying to give an opinion all the time, so when a player like him, and a man like him, expresses his feelings about that, this country should listen."

Chelsea's schedule could, of course, have been more hectic were the west London derby selected for an early Saturday kick off by TV - as was Arsenal's match at Manchester City just after an away midweek European tie earlier this season.

Mourinho arrived from Porto in 2004, coming from a culture where the authorities allowed games to be moved around by their Champions League participants, a situation which has also been followed in both Germany and Italy.

"It is not just them (Spain and Portugal) - it is Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Greece, it is everyone," said the Chelsea boss.

"If someone says 'Friday, no', because Friday has some implications at different levels, we accept that, but what we don't accept is why we are playing Saturday and not Sunday.

"Why a team who plays on Wednesday in the Champions League has to play on the Sunday before and not the Saturday?"

New Fulham manager Felix Magath is hoping to capitalise on Chelsea's European fatigue when the rivals clash at Craven Cottage.

Mourinho said: "Not many people are honest in the way they analyse things. I have to praise Magath because he was the first one to say this is a different match because Chelsea have this situation in midweek, the special situation that the game was so far, and we don't play on Sunday.

"Sunday would be difficult. We play Saturday which is more difficult. Magath knows that.

"He has experience at this level, having played European competitions for many years with other clubs, so I have to praise his honesty."

Mourinho has full respect for the three-time Bundesliga winning coach, whose reputation as a disciplinarian has made many headlines.

"I don't know his training methods. I just know his CV, and the CV is one of the best CVs of the 20 managers now in the Premier League," he said.

"I try to be pragmatic - read the CV, and it's very clear. He has a reputation and a past, and I respect that."

Despite leading the table, Mourinho continues to deflect talk of Chelsea being in the driving seat for the championship.

"We are top of the table because Man City have one match in hand. If they win that match, we are not top of the table," he said.

Fulham look to be facing a difficult task to get themselves out of the relegation zone over the final 11 matches.

Mourinho, though, would not be celebrating the demise of Chelsea's neighbours along the King's Road.

"I don't want (Fulham to go down), no," he said.

"If I could choose, I would say defeat (for Fulham) tomorrow, then 10 victories (for Fulham) and (Fulham to stay in) the Premier League. If I could choose, I would do it that way.

"I would like the London teams to stay up.

"I have that emotional connection with Fulham, our neighbours and our rivals. Rivals need each other.

"It is not good to play without rivals, especially local rivals. It is good for everybody, so hopefully they can keep their place in the division, but tomorrow, we have to try (and beat them).

"I am concerned with the people I know do their best for that club, people I am in contact with, and I would like to see them stay in the division."

Chelsea could soon open up a significant gap over Man City, who take on Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley on Sunday and then also sit out next weekend's Premier League fixtures when they play an FA Cup quarter-final against Wigan.

Mourinho, though, feels that would be a misrepresentation considering the games in hand of their rivals.

"It is better to be in the front with the same number of matches (played), not in a fake situation," he said.

"I want to be in front with the same number of matches, that means we cannot say we are leaders in this moment, but if City win their match in hand, they are leaders."



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