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Saturday 16 December 2017

Big Sam has sympathy for Mourinho's fixture woes

Sam Allardyce and Jose Mourinho
Sam Allardyce and Jose Mourinho

Sam Allardyce has echoed Jose Mourinho's criticism of the Premier League, insisting Crystal Palace's fixture with Manchester United should have been moved to aid United's preparations for the Europa League final.

Mourinho's team will travel to Stockholm to contest Wednesday's showpiece against Ajax just three days after hosting Palace in their final league game of the season.

United will finish sixth regardless of the outcome of Sunday's fixture and Palace cannot be relegated with three teams already down. After their 0-0 draw at Southampton, Mourinho was adamant that the fixture should be brought forward but added he would not waste time making such a request.

"In any country in the world the match would be Saturday, because Sunday we are sixth, doesn't matter what, and Crystal Palace are safe," Mourinho said post-match.

He also joked he hoped his "good friend" Allardyce would tell Palace to "go slow", and the Palace manager responded: "There's no doubt about that (that the game should have been moved).

"They could easily have changed it last week and said 'We will give you the best chance to try to win the Europa League'.

"It's a great shame that we are not like other countries, who will bend over in fixture terms to help their teams win European competitions. We've all been moaning about the fact we're not getting anywhere near the Champions League or we're not getting anyone winning the Europa League.

"When you look at Jose's fixture list, this will be his 63rd game on Sunday. It's a tremendous effort but no help unfortunately from the Premier League to give him the best chance of winning a trophy that Manchester United haven't won. That would happen abroad. They would change the fixtures for you.

"Because there is nothing on our fixture it is easy to change it. We're not going to influence anything one way or the other in terms of results for ourselves, and it would have been a good gesture by the Premier League to have done it to give them the best chance."

Allardyce is already without Andros Townsend for a fixture Mourinho says will be started by his 20-year-old third-choice goalkeeper Joel Pereira. As he has done recently, the Portuguese again plans to field a weakened XI, saying "I hope you don't kill me when you see my team".

Allardyce was then asked if he would do the same in Mourinho's position, and he said: "No doubt about that. The XI that play at Stockholm would probably not feature at all in this last game.

"It would be wrong for me as a manager to jeopardise anybody that you want to pick for that football match."

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