Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called the club’s congested remaining fixture list ‘physically impossible’, accusing those in charge of scheduling of not understanding the impact demanding calendar will have on the players.
United have five more games to play in 2020/21 – the four remaining Premier League fixtures and now the Europa League final against Villarreal towards the end of the month.
From 9 May to 13 May, United will play three Premier League games in just five days. That run starts with a game against Aston Villa on Sunday, with Leicester visiting Old Trafford on Tuesday and the re-arranged Liverpool clash taking place on Thursday, with only one rest day in between each.
Quizzed about the punishing schedule after United’s 8-5 aggregate win over Roma in the Europa League semi-finals, Solskjaer said, “It’s unheard of.”
The United boss told BT Sport, “It’s made by people who have never played football at this level. It’s physically impossible for the players. We have not been dealt a good hand. We are going to need everyone for these four games. It’s a short turnaround but we have to be ready.”
The Liverpool game has caused the problem. It was supposed to take place last weekend but was eventually postponed after fan protests against the Glazer family outside Old Trafford and at the team’s pre-match hotel initially delayed kick-off by over an hour due to safety concerns.
However, the re-arrangement has led to criticisms of the Premier League over flexibility.
Liverpool had a clear week next week between weekend games against Southampton and West Brom. But instead of bringing the latter game forward a few days, enabling the match at Old Trafford to go ahead at the weekend and giving United slightly more breathing room without particularly affecting Liverpool’s schedule, the game has been squeezed in instead.
Conversely, United will end up having a free weekend next weekend because the Fulham clash at Old Trafford has been pushed back to allow fans to attend the final home game of the season.
The Europa League final against Villarreal will be played in Gdansk on Wednesday 26 May, three days after the final Premier League game of the season away to Wolves.