In the past few weeks, managers of teams competing in Europe have become very vocal about the schedules being too hectic for the players. Gary Neville recently compared Jurgen Klopp’s antics to those of Sir Alex Ferguson, who used to employ the same strategies to buy more recovery time for his players.
“On some things. The 12:30 pm kick-off, I don’t know why and the fans at home listening to this will not be able to understand why there’s a difference really between 12:30 pm and 3 pm in terms of players’ recovery, it’s two-and-a-half hours, what does that do?”
“But I personally hated the 12 o’clock kick-off on a Saturday, particularly having played Champions League midweek.”
“It always felt like your legs were never the same, you were eating pasta at 9 o’clock in the morning.”
“I remember Patrice Evra saying his first game in English football was a 12 o’clock Manchester Derby at the Etihad – they used to play at 8 o’clock at night in Monaco.”
“There’s just something that is more difficult, particularly away from home, so that I agree with.”
“I don’t know what it is, I don’t know if it’s some psychological thing, whether it’s a body clock thing because you’re warming up at half-past ten in the morning or travelling to a game at a time that you don’t normally do, it doesn’t feel the same and it isn’t as good for a player.”
“But I also used to play for a manager, and there are hundreds of these quotes from Sir Alex Ferguson, who every single season would want that advantage to recover more, the ability to play at different times so it suited Manchester United and that’s what Jurgen Klopp wants now.”
However, here is why the Premier League will most likely not budge on the ‘rescheduling’ of games.
The Delayed Start to the Season
The most basic of explanations can be given for the fact that there are no other available dates for matches to be rescheduled. The season started about a month and a half late and will have to wrap up by May or June so that the 2021/22 season takes place normally.
With EFL Cup and FA Cup ties taking up the midweek in the absence of other fixtures, when they are not held on the weekend, it is very difficult for the Premier League to arrange for the season any better than it already is.
The European Advantage
All things considered, the amount of money in football is absolutely undeniable. It is not a coincidence that only four of the Big Six in the Premier League take Champions League berths in most seasons.
Considering the financial backing behind these clubs, it is also a fair assumption that they have a good, quality squad depth to dive into if players need to be rotated. That advantage does not lie with a lot of the smaller clubs in the league, who often struggle to just make up the numbers alone.
The Turning of the Tables
If you’ve been following the Premier League at all this season, you will know that the league leaders have been changing almost every other week. And the Big Six are finally at a slight disadvantage over the rest of the league.
With the likes of Southampton, Aston Villa, and Everton all managing to take the competition to the entitled teams in the league, the entire thing has made for much more exciting viewing. And the Premier League, considering the way that they do business, will be damned if they let this slip away.
Five Subs Solution
Along with calls for a more flexible schedule, managers of the Premier League have been calling for the English league to follow the rest of Europe and reintroduce the five substitutions rule that was in effect when play resumed after lockdown.
Considering that the fixture schedule is packed, the five subs rule would be the way to go to protect the players, as well as to finish the season in time for the next one. However’ there must be a majority on the issue for it to go through as a rule in the league. That, as of yet, has not been achieved.