MARTIN O’Neill has criticised the Premier League for making his team play twice in three days, but refuses to use it as an excuse if they fail to perform against Manchester City or Wigan Athletic.
Sunderland entertain the league leaders in tomorrow’s televised game before travelling to Wigan for Tuesday night’s encounter.
City entertain Liverpool that evening and, despite a squad which dwarves the Black Cats’, manager Roberto Mancini has criticised the fixture-planners.
O’Neill said: “They (the fixtures) had been fixed before I came here.
“We play on a Sunday and I know the game has been moved, but then we play on Tuesday.
“I suppose if Mancini can moan about it, why shouldn’t I?
“We cannot do anything about it, it was done for TV but I suppose the Premier League should have a look at it to not give one team a bit of an advantage over the other.
“When you are playing in quick succession having played a number of games in the lead-up to it, they should look at it.
“I do not see why our game could not maybe have taken place on the Wednesday. I don’t know and nor have I made a call to anybody. Maybe I should have done.”
Wigan have an extra 24 hours to prepare, though this afternoon they face probably the Premier League’s most physical opponents Stoke City on a pitch too small for Europa League football.
There are seven Premier League matches today and five on Monday. Those teams are not back in action until the weekend, in the FA Cup third round. Newcastle United have had the best of it, playing Liverpool last night in the first of the weekend fixtures and Manchester United on Wednesday in the last of the midweek matches.
Sunderland’s run of six Premier League games in 23 days is not untypical.
While O’Neill refused to use it as an excuse, it is hard to imagine next week’s football being of the entertaining standard the division prides itself on.
O’Neill added: “If you are carrying injuries the Premier League is so quick now you will be found out. I am hoping that will not be the case.
“People will say we used to play way back on Boxing Day and the day after. I really should not be making any excuses.”