Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink feels that club doctors need to start putting pressing on the Football Association and Premier League to change the way the fixture calendar works.
The defending Premier League champions have lost John Terry to a hamstring injury recently and they saw Pedro suffer a similar injury during Saturday’s victory over Southampton. The Blues now see a fixture pile-up in front of them that the Dutchman believes will put his players at further risk of injury.
Chelsea were scheduled to play Liverpool in a Premier League match on the 13th of March but that game has been re-arranged because of the FA Cup sixth round. Hiddink is annoyed that their game against Everton in that competition has been scheduled to take place on Saturday the 12th of March instead of at the same time as the Liverpool game was originally planned for.
The schedule means that Chelsea will have to play as many as four different matches in the space of twelve days, spanning games in the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup. They go up against Norwich tomorrow, before welcoming Stoke to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. They then have the second-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St-Germain next Wednesday before the FA Cup game against Everton three days after that.
Hiddink said, “Hopefully the PSG game doesn’t go into extra-time because players need time when the intensity of the league is like it is. The medical people at the FA and the Premier League should make this known. Every club has medical departments. The doctors should stand up and say: ‘FA, television, whoever…. hey’”.
Hiddink has added his voice to the calls of other Premier League managers. Manuel Pellegrini called for a change to the way the system works after he felt he was forced to play a weakened team in the FA Cup match against Chelsea in the fifth round of the competition. They went on to lose the match 5-1 and Pellegrini was criticised for disrespecting the cup competition.
The FA have themselves confirmed that the current fixture list in ‘untenable’. They were forced to schedule Arsenal’s FA Cup fifth-round replay against Hull on a Champions League night, something that UEFA expressly forbid unless under ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Hiddink is unsure whether or not Terry will be able to feature in any of the upcoming games due to his hamstring injury. He said, “I have the experience with these kind of injuries. Maybe John needs an 11 versus 11 at Cobham or six versus six or seven versus seven – but with intensity”.