Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini added his voice to calls for the English Premier League to follow their European counterparts and introduce a winter break.
With Spain, Italy and Germany enjoying a Christmas and New Year rest, English clubs face the prospect of four games in a 10-day period which could play a major role in the destination of the title.
Tomorrow’s Boxing Day program marks the start of the gruelling schedule.
“In England, Boxing Day is very important game but maybe English players need a rest sometimes,” Mancini said. “It might not be Boxing Day but maybe in January you could have a week off for all the players. That would be a good opportunity for them.”
Mancini’s fellow Italian Roberto Di Matteo, who coaches West Brom, has backed the Eastlands manager.
“We’re not living in the Middle East or Africa. We live in England, in Northern Europe, so let’s have a winter break,” Di Matteo said. “Every year it snows, the pitches are frozen, training pitches are frozen, it’s not safe for supporters, so let’s have a break.”
“This weather we are having now shouldn’t be out of the blue because geographically it’s where we are and the chances of it happening are high,” he said. “In March we have two games. Can we not put another game in there, even though it’s an international break?”
“Why not put one or two at the end of May when the pitches are beautiful and people will flock to the stadium,” Di Matteo said. “I know of the Boxing Day tradition but you will still get packed stadia later in the year because it’s a better climate and people will enjoy it more.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti slammed the Premier League fixture planners as his side prepare to play twice in three days over Christmas.
Ancelotti’s team, who trail leaders Manchester United by three points, will play a crucial clash against title rivals Arsenal on Monday before a home match against Bolton two days later and the Italian is unhappy with the champions’ workload.
Bolton host West Bromwich Albion tomorrow as part of the traditional Boxing Day schedule, while Chelsea have to wait another 24 hours before their fixture at Arsenal as the game is being shown live on television in England.
That means Owen Coyle’s players will have an extra day to ease their aching limbs before travelling to Stamford Bridge to face the Blues and Ancelotti believes that gives Bolton a significant advantage.
“I want to say something about the Bolton game because we won’t have the possibility to recover,” Ancelotti told reporters on Thursday.
“We’ll have two days, compared to Bolton who, unfortunately, play on the 26th. We play on the 27th. That’s not a good thing, to have one day less to recover. I’m not happy about that,” he said.
However, tough-as-nails Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy believes players and managers should “just get on with it” and stop whinging.
“I’ve never wanted a winter break at all. Fans love going to a game on Boxing Day and I’ve done it all my life as a player and manager,” he said.
“I’ve trained Christmas Day and you just get on with it. I remember when I was at Sunderland a few years ago and over 40,000 turned up on Boxing Day against Leeds. It was like a full house, it was amazing — and that was in the Championship,” McCarthy said.