Tottenham Hotspur held a press conference at their training center today before jetting off to Bulgaria to prepare for tomorrow’s Europa League qualifying match against Lokomotiv Plovdiv. In addition to Jose Mourinho, Eric Dier had a rare appearance in front of the microphone and used that opportunity to deflect questions about Gareth Bale and the addition of new signings.
But what he did talk about, and quite verbosely, was Tottenham’s congested fixture schedule, which if they continue to win in the Europa League will see them play a staggering 9 matches in just 20 days.
Dier, clearly, is not happy about it. Here’s how he responded when asked about the fixture pile-up so early in the season.
“The Euros is a long way away. Football things happen very quickly, things change so there is no point looking too far ahead. I am really focused on the next game. In terms of our schedule, from a welfare point of view there is no care for the players’ welfare.”
Asked to expound upon that later in the press conference, Dier clarified that he thinks the team has the depth to be able to cope with it, but the schedule isn’t doing the club any favors.
“No, I don’t mean how we’re going to fare with it. I think the depth of our squad is the strongest I think it’s been in my time at Tottenham. If you look at the players who were on the bench and the players who weren’t even in the squad on Sunday.
“I think there’s fantastic depth and fantastic quality throughout the squad and the manager has emphasised that if we want to be successful and win games and go far, it’s all about the squad and that squad performing.
“It’s just if you look at that schedule, that schedule isn’t showing any care for players’ physical welfare. It’s common sense really, trying to ask someone to play Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. It doesn’t seem like there is any care for players’ welfare in that situation.”
It’s clear that COVID-19 has compressed the already crowded schedule, and the Europa League has tried to mitigate some of the crunch by doing things like making the two-legged qualifying stages into single leg matches. But just look at that schedule. Dier’s right — it’s absolutely not healthy. Tottenham have a decently deep squad (even more so once Reguilon and Bale join) but I kind of shudder to think what a smaller club would go through if they had a similar stretch of matches.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that asking Spurs to play nine matches in 20 days shouldn’t be it.
You can watch Dier’s full press conference below.