This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
As quoted by The Manchester Evening News, Manchester City have released a statement slamming the Premier League’s scheduling of fixtures during the Christmas period.
Pep Guardiola’s side already find themselves eight points behind title rivals Liverpool after just eight games in the Premier League, as they look to make it a hat-trick of league triumphs this season.
Following the release of the Christmas fixtures list, a change in the schedule will now see the Citizens’ clash against Wolves be played on December 27 instead of Boxing Day at 7.45pm. That would then mean Guardiola’s men would have less than 48 hours to prepare for a home clash against Sheffield United.
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In response, Omar Berrada, Chief Operating Officer of City, remarked: “We’re disappointed that the schedule is so tight for the players over Christmas. Premier League games are a huge physical demand, and it’s not ideal to be made to play twice in less than 48 hours because it doesn’t give the players time to properly recover.
“We obviously understand that the paying rights-holding broadcasters are an important consideration when it comes to scheduling, but we also need to make sure that we protect the players’ wellbeing, the sporting integrity of the league, and the quality of the product.
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“We’ve had an open dialogue with the league to consider other options, but ultimately, we will have to comply with the kick off times and dates as they have been presented to us.”
City may understandably feel aggrieved with the fixture change – particularly with Liverpool appearing to simultaneously benefit too – and that could prove to be a real turning point in their season.
The nature of the title race means there is no room to slip up, and City’s two defeats already this season has been promptly capitalised on by Jurgen Klopp’s side. But the controversy, and the perceived idea that it’s intended effect was to help the Merseyside club, could reinvigorate the stumbling Citizens.
Guardiola can head into the dressing room and pour out his frustrations to his players about how the institutions are conspiring against them. It could be the rallying cry they desperately need.