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Managers should have a say in Premier League schedule – Nuno Espirito Santo

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United – Premier League – Molineux
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

A Premier League manager should be involved in fixture scheduling decisions, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has said.

The top-flight programme for the festive period was published on Thursday, bringing the issue of player workload and fixture congestion back into the spotlight.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has been an outspoken critic of the schedule in the past, said it was a “waste of time” to complain about it again when he spoke to the media on Friday.

Jurgen Klopp and Nuno Espirito Santo have had their say on the fixture schedule

Jurgen Klopp and Nuno Espirito Santo have had their say on the fixture schedule (Nick Potts/PA)

Nuno sympathised with Klopp, and offered a constructive solution to ensure the voice of managers was heard in future.

“We should be allowed to have a voice inside the decision-making,” the Portuguese said.

“Managers and players should be listened to when they demand so much, especially from the players.

“We have to realise what we are asking from our players. If there is a chance to be heard, fantastic.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has also repeatedly raised concerns, but says it is an argument which is at least two decades old.

“It will be a pleasure to play in 48 hours, two games. I have nothing to say. Every wintertime it’s the same argument,” he said.

“I’m a young manager in this country. There are other managers who have been here longer and every season it’s the same.

“We express – all the managers – our concerns for the exceptional situation but if the business, the Premier League or whoever, decide to do it, we are going to do it.

“I think in Sir Alex Ferguson’s time or Arsene Wenger’s time, or a long time ago, 2000, 2001 – it was the same. It’s part of the culture. The managers or players try to suggest our opinion but we are not involved.”

Pep Guardiola said the problem was around when Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson were managing

Pep Guardiola said the problem was around when Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson were managing (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Guardiola is right that a packed Christmas schedule has been a staple of English football for years, and it had been feared 2020-21 could be especially problematic after the season started late due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, no club has a gap between games of less than 48 hours and only four clubs have a gap of exactly 48 hours.

Last season, for comparison, five clubs had a gap of less than 48 hours and six clubs had a gap of exactly 48 hours.

Klopp, who discovered his side will play in his pet hate pattern – an 8pm kick-off away at Tottenham on Wednesday, December 16 followed by a Saturday lunchtime match against Crystal Palace – felt it was no longer worth getting angry about.

Jurgen Klopp has regularly expressed his concerns over fixture scheduling

Jurgen Klopp has regularly expressed his concerns over fixture scheduling (Peter Powell/PA)

“Whatever I say doesn’t help so I’ll stop talking about it. It changes nothing. It’s just a waste of time,” he said.

“My thoughts are clear but this isn’t the time for me to speak about it. The last thing I want is to create a headline but you say I’ve given up.

“I speak in a general way. A general problem. Wednesday/Saturday 12.30, you have to ask other people why they do that. I don’t have the answer.”

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted the fixture pile-up became more acute for clubs like Liverpool.

Ralph Hasenhuttl feels for Liverpool

Ralph Hasenhuttl feels for Liverpool (Clive Brunskill/PA)

“I understand him completely because the schedule they have is massive,” the Austrian said.

“If you are here at the top of the mountain, the wind is the strongest, then you have to face it.

“We are a little bit further down the mountain so it is a little bit nicer to live there, but maybe you get more often the rain.”