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Mourinho up in arms over Manchester clubs’ games in hand

J

ose Mourinho has questioned the integrity of the Premier League by demanding to know when the Manchester clubs will play their games in hand.

United and City were handed late starts to the season — agreed at shareholder level by Premier League clubs — after reaching the latter stages of last term’s Europa League and Champions League, respectively. United’s visit to Burnley and City’s match against Aston Villa were postponed from the opening day, so all four clubs have played nine matches, one fewer than the rest of the top flight.

There is still no date for fixtures to be rearranged and Mourinho believes the situation is impacting the competition and suggested it was unfair, particularly given Spurs were forced to play two midweek games in a week in October to fulfil their EFL Cup and Europa League commitments.

There is a belief among those at the Premier League that not much more could be done regarding the rearranging of the games. The 30-day break for City and United was agreed after long discussions with clubs. The congested season has meant every other competition has been played in between Premier League fixtures, meaning there has not been a clear window to play the games.

However, Mourinho said: “It is very difficult to accept that four clubs have one match less than the others and I don’t even know when they’re going to play these matches which in every [other] country would be impossible.

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“They have to be played until at least the end of the first round [of games]. Before matchday 19, they should be playing these matches.

“I don’t even know when Burnley, City, Aston Villa, United — and now Newcastle and Aston Villa (which was postponed from tonight due to a Covid outbreak at Newcastle) — are going to play.

“It can affect the competition. I was trying [to find] an answer this week and no one can give me that answer. We played four matches in one week and nobody was crying or supporting us.”

The Portuguese, whose side drew 3-3 with LASK last night to book their place in the Europa League knockout stages with a game to spare, also challenged Spurs fans to be club’s 12th man when 2,000 return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time since March for Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal.

He said the returning supporters would only make a difference to his side if they are coming to “wear a Tottenham shirt and play the game”, rather than simply “enjoy the stadium”.

Asked if the return of fans would lift his team, Mourinho said: “I don’t know. Do they want to go to the most beautiful stadium in England and enjoy that? Or do they want to go to play the game? If they want to go there, wear a Tottenham shirt and play the game, that can give more motivation and pleasure for us.”

Spurs are top of the table, while Arsenal have made their worst start to a campaign since 1981. But Mourinho, who expects Harry Kane (left), Toby Alderweireld and Sergio Reguilon to be fit, insisted form was irrelevant in derby matches. “In these games the table doesn’t say anything,” he said. “A derby game is nothing to do with form.”

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