Dear Jose: Can we please stop whining about the schedule?

Sascha Steinbach

José Mourinho is good at many things and great at a select few that are key in football.

He's an excellent motivator.  A man-manager who inspires utmost loyalty or devastating hate - but mostly loyalty - and nothing in-between.  An astute tactician who is unafraid of risks and taking responsibility for said risks afterwards.  At the same time, he's great at deflecting blame, a master at steering conversation and narrative (as much as such things can be steered), and focusing all observers' attentions where he deems most appropriate.

Sometimes things veer a bit too close to conspiracy theory however.  There's that whole "UEFA-lona" episode from his days at Real or the Rijkaard-Frisk allegations from his first stint at Chelsea - so basically any match involving his team against Barcelona.  So far in the second stint, he's kept that weirdo side of him under control.  Except when it comes to scheduling.

"I feel our match [against West Brom] is very special because, of every English team involved in European competitions, especially the ones involved in Champions League matches, we're the only team that plays on Saturday. Everybody has one more day to rest. We're the only team that plays Wednesday and Saturday."

Having already complained about the timing of League Cup match versus Arsenal - understandable, I suppose, in light of the short, 48-hour interval from final whistle to kickoff - he's back at it with the West Brom clash.

"Instead of 15 days to prepare the game against West Ham, we have 16 days, which is good."

"I think Big Sam will be upset because we have 16 days to prepare the game against West Ham. So, once more, I understand every decision. That's good. I just think we are special. For some reason, we had to play against Arsenal when we did. We have to play this now. OK, now it's good."

Sure, it's sarcastic and funny, and sure, in an ideal world you wouldn't play twice in four days, but it's all a bit unbecoming.  It's all a bit Interim-league.  And painting it as some conspiracy against poor us sounds a little more than a tiny bit silly.

"I think they laugh. They know what they do and they laugh because I can't do nothing."

"It is the people that decide the fixtures, I don't know who they are. What I know is that they think we are special and they always give us the right fixtures, so now we are the only team that plays Wednesday and Saturday. But again, I think they are nice to us because we have 16 days to prepare West Ham."

Surely Mourinho understands that to a great extent, the FA and the Premier League are at the mercy of the ginormous TV contracts from Sky and BT Sport.  This is the price we pay for the price they pay us, which in turn allows us to buy all this wonderful talent, which in turn allows us to have a big, quality squad built exactly for this sort of fixture congestion.  TV rights is why the Arsenal vs. Chelsea League Cup match had to be on a Tuesday and it's TV rights why Chelsea have to stay and play in the traditional Saturday 3pm timeslot this weekend.

We get screwed this weekend, just like Arsenal were screwed at the end of August, when they had to play a Wednesday - Saturday - Tuesday schedule, and will be screwed even more next month when they have to play Napoli away on a Wednesday and follow that up with a trip to Manchester for the Saturday early kickoff at City.  City themselves had to go through our League Cup conundrum in the previous round (Sunday - Tuesday) and our current conundrum in early October (Bayern on Wednesday, then Everton on Saturday, with the early kickoff even).  That same weekend, Manchester United - whose website is absolute pants, by the way - traveled to Ukraine on Wednesday and Sunderland on Saturday.  It happens to everyone.  And if they complain, they sound just as silly.

So can we just drop this whole thing, regardless of how much it may contribute to that whole us-versus-them mentality that is a big part of a successful Mourinho squad?  There is no great conspiracy.  There is no shadow proclamation.  Can we just get on with the games, please?

Thank you.

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