Football Features

Like “abolishing the Queen”: Ralf Rangnick defends the Premier League’s festive fixture period

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:32, 27 December 2021

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has defended the Premier League’s busy festive fixture period, hailing it as tradition.

The German has already come under fire from some rival rans in his first few weeks in charge at Man Utd for suggesting the end of the League Cup. Man Utd were already out of the competition by Rangnick’s arrival but the former RB Leipzig manager looked at the League Cup as a big difference between the Premier League and the rest of Europe’s top five divisions.

After France’s abolition of their League Cup, England are the only country in Europe’s top five leagues that has two cup competitions – though the sixth-ranked league Portugal also have two cups, the Taca da Liga and Taca de Portugal.

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Over the festive period, a lot of managers and players have bemoaned the lack of rest teams are getting between fixtures. As usual, teams are playing on Boxing Day and December 28th with Crystal Palace, Norwich, Southampton and Tottenham in particular all having fewer than 48 hours between the end of their Boxing Day match and kick-off of their next game.

But Rangnick has stuck up for the Premier League’s festive fixture list, comparing the hypothetical abolition of it to getting rid of the monarchy.

“I’ve watched Premier League football for the last 40 years so when it was also the First Division and I know what kind of tradition it is to play football over Christmas and on Boxing Day, the 27th, the 30th and even New Year’s Day or the 2nd January,” he told MUTV.

“So if somebody came across the idea to abolish then we might as well speak about abolishing the five o’clock tea or the Queen or whatever – this is all part of the tradition of this country and I’m very much looking forward to being part of this for the first time in my career.

“As I said earlier, there might be one or two issues we could think about or seriously discuss. In the future does it still make sense to have two cup competitions? All other big European leagues have only one so this might be an issue worth talking about again.”

The festive fixture period has been pretty kind to Man Utd, with the Red Devils playing three games within seven days – while many others have to do three in six. It starts with their trip to Newcastle on Monday night, and they get a three-day break until they’re next in action at home to Burnley on Thursday. It’s then another Monday night game to kick off 2022, at home to Wolves.

In comparison, Crystal Palace, Norwich and Tottenham are all scheduled to play Sunday-Tuesday-Saturday, while Manchester City have Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday.

However, Man Utd will face fixture pile up later in the season having seen their past two matches postponed.