Sunderland face an end-of-season fixture pile-up after last night’s Premier League game at Manchester City fell foul of the weather.
The Black Cats already have a game against West Bromwich Albion, and their March 10 match at Liverpool will have to be rearranged if either side win their weekend FA Cup ties. Police took the decision to postpone just over an hour before last night’s 7.45pm kick-off.
Heavy rain was falling on Eastlands but it was the high winds causing the 600 travelling Sunderland fans so much trouble in getting to Manchester which was perhaps uppermost in their mind.
A lorry was blown over on the M62 mid-afternoon, reducing traffic to a crawl. Sunderland coach Gustavo Poyet had no problem with the decision to postpone, but admitted the fixture list is becoming increasingly troublesome.
“That’s the difficult part,” he said. “We will have a lot of fixtures to play in a shorter amount of time now, because of our success in the cups.
“People will start thinking about Saturday (when Southampton are visitors in the FA Cup fifth round) for example and, in the future, I think it’s maybe an idea for the FA Cup to become a little bit like the Capital One Cup where we play one game at whatever ground and there is no replay.
“I know and I understand that the smaller teams would like to play at home but on the other side of the coin, it will be difficult for us and I can’t imagine what it will be like for Manchester City, who are still in the Champions League and the FA Cup.
“I’ve said many, many times that we should have a break in January and, in seasons where there is no major tournament at the end, the season should be extended into June. Then we’ll have more weekends and less games on nights in the middle of the week.”
Premier League games are not allowed to clash with Champions and Europa League matches, so without special dispensation the game could not be rearranged before April. There is a round of international fixtures, and a rescheduled Manchester derby in March.
“We came across on Tuesday and prepared as normal,” Poyet revealed. “We had a meeting (yesterday morning) and set off for the game as usual. It was very difficult to get to the ground. A journey that would normally take about 25 minutes took more than 40. It’s true we saw a few incidents outside, there were a few panels coming down towards our bus.
“Of course we were ready to play, and we wanted to play. But we have nothing to complain about. You don’t know what is going to happen, but we need to be honest. It was a strong decision by the police, and we have to agree with that.”
Another consequence is that the League Cup final will be Wes Brown’s first game in three weeks. The central defender’s two-match suspension will now take in the trip to Arsenal.