Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini on Friday railed against what he regarded as an over-demanding fixture list, telling England's football authorities that players are not machines. Mancini's ire was provoked by a situation in which if his side draw their FA Cup fifth round tie with Aston Villa next Wednesday it will result in a replay on 7 March.
The replay would come just two days after the Blues tackle Wigan in the English Premier League at Eastlands and only three before a taxing 2,800-mile round trip to Kiev for the UEFA Europa League first-leg tie with Dynamo. Either side of this, City must face Fulham in the league on Sunday and then either Everton or Reading in the FA Cup quarter-finals if Villa lose.
"In my life I have never seen that a team arrives in February and March and has to play every two days," said Mancini. "This is a big problem, not only for us but for all the teams. Something should change because this is impossible for all English players."
"At every World Cup and European Championships, there is a problem for England because all their players are tired," he continued. "We should have more respect for them. They are not machines."
Mancini's problems are exasperated by injury. Already, six senior players are sidelined and they could be joined by Vincent Kompany, who limped out of Thursday's Europa League win over Aris Salonika with a hip injury.
"At the moment, it is difficult to get performances from my team every three days because I only have 15 players," Mancini said. "Usually when I have 18 or 19, I can change six or seven players and keep them all fresh. At this moment, it is impossible because I can only change three or four."
"I don't know if these matches will eventually catch up with us. We can only use the gaps in between to recover, which we will have to do for every game until we play against Chelsea on March 20."