Football: Mourinho bemoans fixture schedule after mini-break

Mourinho (above) has hit out at the lack of protection for Premier League clubs playing in Europe.
Mourinho (above) has hit out at the lack of protection for Premier League clubs playing in Europe.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Jose Mourinho has hit out at the lack of protection for Premier League clubs playing in Europe as his Tottenham Hotspur side return from a short break to face three big games in seven days.

Tottenham travel to Aston Villa on Sunday (Feb 16) in the Premier League, host RB Leipzig on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, then visit Chelsea next Saturday.

With Leipzig playing in the Bundesliga on Saturday, they will have 24 hours longer to prepare than Tottenham.

"If you ask me if it's the perfect situation, I say no," Mourinho, a regular critic of the English schedule, told a news conference on Friday.

"The perfect situation would be for us to play against Villa tonight or tomorrow early, have three or four days before Leipzig.

"In fact Leipzig plays tomorrow afternoon so it's not the perfect situation for us to play on Sunday, but since 2004 I'm in this country I know how it works and I know we have no protection at all before the Champions League matches."

If Tottenham win a third successive league game for the first time since Mourinho arrived in November they will close to within a point of fourth-placed Chelsea who host Manchester United on Monday night.

Should Tottenham win and Chelsea slip up, Tottenham could move above their London rivals next weekend.

Mourinho, however, is looking no further ahead than what he expects to be a tough battle at relegation-threatened Villa - their first league game since beating Manchester City on Feb 2.

"Always difficult Villa Park," said Mourinho, whose side's mid-season break was interrupted by an FA Cup replay win over Southampton last week.

"Villa are a good team, fighting to stay in the division, self-esteem really high after reaching the Wembley (League Cup) final.

"Very difficult match, we have to go with all the potential we have, forgetting that two days after we play Leipzig."

Mourinho was asked about Dele Alli's social media message mocking the coronavirus outbreak in China, a post the midfielder quickly deleted and apologised for but which could still land him in trouble with the Football Association.

"Of course I spoke with him about that," Mourinho said.

"But for me it was a quite easy conversation, because he was very sorry about that thing... a mistake. It was never his intention to hurt, it was never his intention to offend.

"He immediately regretted and realised. It was a young guy mistake, a young generation mistake. It was not a case of me being unhappy and him not understanding why I was unhappy. He regrets and that's the best he can show. And I think to apologise is remarkable."