Jose Mourinho and the Premier League schedule have been on unfriendly terms for most of the season. While I've personally dismissed most of the previous as whining, this time he's actually talking a bit of sense.
Take it away, oh Greatest Champion of English Clubs Involved in Europe!
"Do people not care that English teams are struggling in Europe? Why don't they? I care. Television deserves to be powerful because, without them, nothing would be the same, but there is space in the calendar that could be filled with communication."
-Jose Mourinho; source: ESPN
Jose cares. Inside he may be laughing right along with us at Arsenal, Spurs, and the two Manchesters, but outside he cares.
"They should ask the players if it's the same, having two or three days to prepare. Ask [Didier] Drogba on Monday: is it the same for him to play on Friday ahead of the trip to London, or on Saturday with the game coming up on Tuesday?"
"I don't understand why Galatasaray can play on Friday [this week] and we have to play on Saturday. If we played at 7:45 p.m. on a Friday night, it makes a difference to whom?"
"Fewer spectators at Villa Park? I don't think so. It'd still be a full-house and for television? It wouldn't make a difference. It would be the only match, so the [ratings] share would be fantastic."
-Jose Mourinho; source: ESPN
Jose cares. And not just about Chelsea, he cares about everyone. Even teams that employ players who are telling him to shut up.
"I'm trying to get this for all of us, not just me. I don't understand why a team that comes from Europe, playing on Wednesday, must play (at) 12:45 on Saturday."
"I hope Yaya Toure doesn't tell me to shut up, but I don't understand why City have to play tomorrow at 12:45. Why don't City play at 5:30 and we play at 12:45? If they play 5:30, they have one more day to recover and if we play 12:45 we have one more day to recover. Am I stupid? I think everybody agrees. Maybe Yaya doesn't."
-Jose Mourinho; source: Irish Examiner
Many probably do agree with Jose. What he says makes plenty of sense, even if I don't think the situation is quite as dramatic as he paints it. There are plenty of teams across all European leagues who have to regularly deal with just two full days' rest between domestic and continental fixtures, though probably not as often as teams in England do.
But money talks and the TV companies are paying ever greater sums of it, giving them more and more influence over such matters. Considering how much the whole English system is still clinging to outmoded traditions of limited start-time options and non-universal availability of matches on TV, any major change like a match on Friday night is going to be tough sell. And that's without even worrying about the Football League and their claim on the Friday night lights.
Still, no change will ever happen if people don't speak up, so Mourinho adding his voice to others who have questioned the Premier League's scheduling when it comes to navigating around midweek European fixtures can only help.