Tottenham Hotspur will host Fulham at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tomorrow in a match that was originally set to take place on December 30, but was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Fulham squad. This match was scheduled only because Tottenham’s match against Aston Villa, which was supposed to be played on Wednesday, was itself postponed for more positive tests within Villa’s organization.
On the surface, this seems to make a great deal of sense. With the fixture calendar already crammed to capacity and Tottenham one of the clubs that could suffer the most if further matches are postponed down the road, replacing one postponed match with another one previously delayed would help.
However, Fulham doesn’t see it that way. Manager Scott Parker hit out at the decision to reschedule the Spurs match at such short notice, calling it “scandalous,” with the club finding out only 48 hours before the match was scheduled to kick off.
“I am angry because it is not right. It is wrong. That is why I am so angry. The possibility of playing Spurs on Wednesday came on Saturday. We didn’t think that was realistic and we were informed Monday morning at 9:30am. To confirm that on Monday morning is scandalous. I accept we have to play the game, but it’s the notice.”
According to The Athletic, Parker is particularly upset because the decision to play Spurs on Wednesday came too late to make any adjustments to his playing squad that won 2-0 over QPR in the FA Cup on Saturday, a game that went 120 minutes with extra time. Fulham have a number of players, including Spurs academy graduate Josh Onomah, that are only coming back to fitness and were counting on a full week of recovery. The report states that Parker would’ve selected a different team had he known about the rescheduled match before the Cup.
Jose Mourinho, however, was completely unfazed and even a little baffled by Parker’s response, noting that he wasn’t notified that the original match was called off until two hours before the scheduled kickoff.
“Are you serious? They had 48 hours to prepare for this game. You think so? I had the news I was not going to play them two hours before the game started.
“The biggest impact is to have matches postponed. That is the biggest impact. The changing of the order of the matches, the impact is minimal I would say.
“In the end you have to play 19 matches at home and 19 away, and two matches against every team. So if it’s to help the Premier League to go and to end properly, it’s a solution we all have to accept as a positive solution.”
Obviously it’s not quite the same thing — having a match called off late is likely less damaging than being told you have to play one in two days with minimal preparation. Parker even noted this in his own comments.
“The people making these decisions don’t understand players. We have had it tough. We thought they had six days’ recovery time. It is madness really.
“Getting a game called off is irrelevant. That is disappointing. To have a game agreed at 48 hours’ notice. Jose will know you plan for one game or the other. Tottenham knew they had a fixture. He will have planned for that with his team selection.
“Would this have happened with two of the biggest teams in a title clash? Probably not. This is not acceptable.”
You can certainly understand Parker’s frustration of being in the situation, even if it makes sense from a scheduling standpoint. An unprepared and tired Fulham squad certainly benefits Tottenham Hotspur, especially as Mourinho was able to rest a number of his key players in their FA Cup win over Marine on Sunday. And with Fulham currently in the relegation zone, it does feel as though the league is making the Cottagers work that much harder to survive to play in the Premier League next season.