Scott Parker has slammed the Premier League’s late call to bring Fulham’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur forward – revealing he only found out the game was definitely going ahead at 9.30am on Monday morning.
Tottenham’s scheduled league clash with Aston Villa was called off due to the Midlands club struggling with a number of Covid-19 cases. With the postponement, the Premier League pencilled in plans for Fulham and Spurs to play their rearranged date instead on Wednesday night.
But the move has angered the Whites – with manager Parker scathing in his take on the decision and the lack of notice that was given to the club, with the first mention of the rearranged fixture coming after the QPR game at the weekend.
“The possibility of playing Spurs came about on Saturday afternoon,” explained Parker.
“Obviously, I didn’t think that would be realistic. I then got told Monday morning at 9.30am that we’ve got to play Spurs on Wednesday.
“As you can imagine, from my point of view, we live in a time which is unpredictable. Certainly as a manager, we live in that climate every day in the way that we’re managing at the moment. I probably speak for a lot of managers when I say that. But I accept that. I’m normally the last one to moan or whine about anything because I realise it’s tough out there and this is the way it is. But to confirm a Premier League game at 9.30 on Monday morning is scandalous really. It’s not about the fixture. That’s fine, I accept we have to play, but it’s the notice.
“Maybe these people in these places [who decide] don’t understand how you manage teams, how you manage players. You’re constantly working things out well in advance. The decisions we would have made. Whether that’s against QPR, or players who are literally just coming back. We’ve had it tough with Covid – we’ve not been out there with numbers publicly, but we’ve had it very tough. Working them players over a weekend thinking that you’ve got six or seven days before your next fixture to get up to speed – that’s now quickly changed on Monday morning. It’s madness, really.”
Spurs manager Jose Mourinho had no sympathy for Fulham, pointing out that he only had two hours notice before the previous game was called off. But Parker refuted his point.
“Getting a game called off is irrelevant. That is disappointing. But to have a game called on with 48 hours notice… Listen, I don’t want to get into that regarding Jose.
“Spurs knew they had a fixture in. He planned for that. He’s probably planned for however many games they’ve got next, and they’ve got a lot of games, granted. Would this have happened with two of the biggest teams in a title clash? Probably not – and rightly so. For me, this is not acceptable. The integrity of the game, the welfare of players – like I said, we’re now putting players in a position here after two days training. You haven’t got to be very bright to work it out. We had a game called off against Spurs 13 days ago. The reason that game was called off was because we had numerous, numerous outbreaks of Covid. Thirteen days later, we now sit here and with two days notice we now have to put some of these players into a position to play the game.
“I had a say over the weekend, because I got initially told this was a thought process, that this was something that may happen. From Saturday to Sunday, I spent numerous hours trying to explain that surely this can’t be feasible? This gives us hardly any time in terms of what we’ve done and that’s more what my frustration is. My frustration is that I can’t turn back the past five days. I was officially told by my C.E.O at 9.30 on Monday morning that the game is now official.
“None of my players are feeling the aftereffects of it [Covid]. We all know the protocols -13 days ago the games were called off. The protocol is 10 days, so that’s three games. There are players coming back who have been stuck in their houses for 10 days and done no work. And now we sit here, even if we say this game on Wednesday doesn’t exist and there’s a game now on Friday, even a week’s work with these players who have been sitting in their houses is some ask.
“My player’s are fine, and they will be fine. I sit here angry because I don’t think it’s right. It’s wrong. I believe we can give Spurs a game, but I’m disappointed and angry because it’s wrong. I don’t think it’s right for numerous reasons and that’s why I’m so angry about it.”
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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