Fuming Sam Allardyce has branded the Premier League’s decision to hold a round of midweek fixtures after the FA Cup third round as “diabolical”.
Allardyce will make a string of changes for Saturday’s cup tie at Premier League leaders Arsenal, with Sunderland facing the first of three away games in the space of eight days.
The Sunderland boss fears he will be one of several managers forced to take the same approach, which inevitably has a detrimental effect on the cup.
But Allardyce has laid the blame squarely on the Premier League’s decision to hold a midweek game next week after a hectic festive programme.
“If the Premier League decides to put a stupid fixture midweek when they don’t bloody need to then I haven’t got much choice (about making changes at Arsenal)” said Allardyce.
For me, if you want us to respect the FA Cup then you don’t put a Premier League fixture there, do you?Sam Allardyce
“Why put one in there? We’ve got the rest of the season after that and we’ve just done six games in 24 days. We’re flogging the lads.
“Injuries are more and more apparent every year, but it’s completely ignored by the Premier League and they fit a fixture in during midweek after the New Year.
“(The FA Cup) is a game to be enjoyed, not a game to be destroyed and we destroy the game by asking the players to do too much in this period. It’s a fact.
“The game gets ever-quicker and you get more and more injuries in this period and everybody at that level just ignores it.
“For me, if you want us to respect the FA Cup then you don’t put a Premier League fixture there, do you?
“So don’t be giving me stick when I change the side, when the Premier League have put a fixture midweek. Give the Premier League stick, not the managers.”
Allardyce’s mood over next week’s 700-mile midweek trip to fellow strugglers Swansea became even darker last month when the Premier League agreed to the Welsh club’s request to postpone the game 24 hours.
Swansea’s third round trip to League Two Oxford was pushed back to Sunday for coverage on BBC Wales, which had a knock-on effect on Sunderland’s clash at the Liberty Stadium.
But with Sunderland facing a televised lunchtime encounter at Spurs on Saturday week, the Black Cats’ recovery time has been further reduced.
“I’m not annoyed with Swansea, no,” said Allardyce.
“I’m annoyed with the Premier League based on our circumstances. Our circumstances are far greater and far worse than Swansea’s.
“We have to play all three games away to begin with. It’s around 2,000 miles of travel.
“We now have to play Tottenham at 12.45pm after playing Wednesday night at Swansea, so that’s less than three days recovery.
“Swansea probably won’t play their best team at Oxford. They changed nine of the team last week for the side that won at Norwich, so they’re likely to change at Oxford.
“It’s making it harder for me to get more points in the Premier League by making us play Wednesday and Saturday than Tuesday and Saturday.”
Sunderland had objected to Swansea’s decision, yet the Premier League sided with the Welsh side, albeit Black Cats fans are able to get travel expenses reimbursed after the game was rearranged at just three weeks notice.
“Mr (Richard) Scudamore (Premier League executive chairman) and the board don’t look at the facts properly,” added Allardyce.
“They dismissed the appeal and said ‘no, we’re not going to change it’ which is totally and utterly wrong by Mr Scudamore.
“They came up with telling the fans that they’ll get their expenses back, but what a load of ********.
“I’m more concerned with the fans who have booked their travel up and spent all their money. Will they get all of that back or won’t they?
“Richard Scudamore has my number, he can ring me up any time he wants, but he won’t and tell me why Swansea’s situation is better to change the game than our circumstances.”