LONDON (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has supported Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard’s comment that English clubs should be offered more support by the domestic game’s governing bodies.
League leaders Chelsea face Fulham in the Premier League at Craven Cottage on Saturday just 58 hours after touching down back home following their midweek 1-1 Champions League draw at Galatasaray.
The Blues had hoped the match would be moved back by 24 hours to the Sunday with Lampard stating the disrupted preparation for the west London derby as ‘not ideal’ and Mourinho echoed those words at his pre-match press conference at Stamford Bridge on Friday.
Fulham manager Felix Magath believes his struggling side will have an advantage over their neighbours, a viewpoint Chelsea counterpart Mourinho agrees with.
Mourinho said: “I have to praise Magath because he was the first one to say this is a different match because Chelsea have this situation in midweek, the special situation that the game was so far, and we don’t play on Sunday.
“We play Saturday which is more difficult. Magath knows that. He has experience at this level.
“We all prefer to play game after game after game, but we all want to play game after game with conditions to recover, with equal conditions for every team, and no sense that a team has a privilege in the choices, and every team in the same country has the same privilege to be a little bit protected in relation to European matches.
“It makes the players’ job difficult, not my job. I can play a match every day, it’s not a problem for me or the people who make the fixtures. I don’t run, they don’t run.
“It’s difficult for the players. When a player like Frank Lampard, who has a right to speak and has played an unbelievable number of seasons and matches in this club, and over 100 times for England, and is not the kind of player who is trying to give an opinion all the time.
“When a player like him, and a man like him, expresses his feelings about that, this country should listen.
“This country should listen. I repeat, it’s not a problem for my legs, or those who make those decisions. It’s a problem for the players’ legs.”
In competing European leagues, clubs are sometimes able to reschedule their matches so that players have additional recovery around midweek Champions League ties.
But that is not the case in the Premier League – a situation which has clearly incensed the former Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss.
Mourinho added: “It’s not just them. It’s Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Greece, it’s everyone. And if someone says ‘Friday, no’, because Friday has some implications at different levels, we accept that.
“But what we don’t accept is why we’re playing Saturday and not Sunday. Why a team who plays on Wednesday in the Champions League has to play on the Sunday before and not the Saturday.
“I’m nobody, and my legs are fresh from the last match. I didn’t sleep a lot, but my legs are fresh. But for my players, it’s different.”
Following their return from Istanbul, Chelsea did not train on Thursday and underwent their first session at a later time of 4pm on Friday in a bid to shake off any weariness.
And Mourinho claimed he had no team news ahead of facing the Cottagers because of the change in training schedule.
The Portuguese chief was also keen to play down his side’s chance of the title, despite sitting in pole position with 11 games to go.
He said: “We are top of the table because Man City have one match in hand. If they win that match, we are not top of the table.”