Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has labelled the Premier League “unbelievable” for failing to move his side’s match against Southampton from Sunday to Saturday.
City had requested the game at St Mary’s Stadium be brought forward, in an attempt to secure the same amount of preparation and recovery time as their opponents ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
Madrid play their Liga fixture against Real Sociedad on Saturday and do not have to travel, giving them an extra day to prepare for the return fixture against City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, with the tie delicately poised after a 0-0 draw in Manchester last week.
“For me, it’s unbelievable,” said the Chilean, who has managed Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga in the knockout stages UEFA’s elite club competition.
“If you see other leagues, including Italy, the teams that play Champions League play their domestic games on a Friday.
“So I think it’s better for English football, because if you don’t continue in the Champions League – and I’m not talking just about Manchester City – maybe we’re going to lose a spot for the next season.
“So we are representing England.
“I didn’t ask the Premier League. It was the club, they have the conversations with the Premier League, so I don’t know why they couldn’t do it. But I was told it was impossible to change it.
“I think it’s important not to give any advantage to the other team, but also you need to have three days to recover.
“We’re going to have those three days, but we’re playing late on Sunday, in the last kick-off, and if you can have four days it’s better.”
Pellegrini was criticised by some observes after fielding an inexperienced team and losing 5-1 away to Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup in February, the manager choosing to prioritise the Champions League round-of-16 tie against Dynamo Kiev, which City won 3-1 on aggregate.
“I don’t understand, having so many games, and with all the games having the same interest, why we can’t play 24 hours earlier?
“At least then we would have the same preparation time as Real Madrid, who play on the Saturday.
“You can’t continue to [compete in] the Champions League and FA Cup to the end because you have three [Premier League] games postponed until the last week of the season. It’s impossible.”
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