Mon, Aug 20, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Premier League bosses hit back at McClaren criticism

AFP , LONDON

Premier League bosses have hit back at England manager Steve McClaren, who complained that he will have only an hour to prepare his players for Wednesday's friendly with Germany because of poor scheduling.

McClaren on Saturday blasted a decision to stage four Premiership clashes, involving most of England's squad, for yesterday when Manchester United were facing Manchester City, Arsenal were playing Blackburn and Liverpool hosted Chelsea.

However the Premier League insist the Football Association were involved in the decision-making process over fixtures.

"It's disappointing to hear this because we worked very hard with the FA to accommodate the national team," Premier League spokesman Dan Johnson said in the Mail on Sunday.

"The FA were part of the fixtures working party along with the Premier League and the Football League," he said. "We can't micro-manage fixtures. If we had removed the Man City v United and Liverpool v Chelsea matches and put them somewhere else we might have created problems elsewhere."

"If anything, we feel for the clubs. They just get started then they are interrupted by a friendly international so early in their seasons," he said. "We would point out that there's an agreement in place ahead of competitive games."

Although McClaren named a 28-man squad for Wednesday's clash, 12 of them will not be available for today's planned training session.

"We talk about helping England and England becoming successful but you have got to have a bit of help," McClaren said.

"I don't think going into a friendly against Germany with so many of our team being involved in big games against each other is going to help us one little bit," he said. "In preparation terms, it probably means we will get an hour on Tuesday to get ourselves ready for the game on Wednesday."

"It is something I am not happy about and I have expressed that unhappiness to the Premier League fixtures people," McClaren said.

While the games at Manchester City and Liverpool did not necessarily have to be screened yesterday, McClaren recognizes TV broadcasters want top games shown at prime times.

His argument concerns why such games were slotted into the fixture list at a time of the season when they were bound to cause him a problem, as it will be McClaren rather than the Premier League who get the blame from fans if England fail this week.

"I don't know how to resolve the issue or know what the answer is," the national coach said.

"You cannot escape the fact TV has made our league the best in the world. I just know it doesn't help England. All we can do is voice our opinions and keep hammering at the door," he said.

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