Sir Alex Ferguson believes the demands of live television have made the English domestic fixture list so daunting for teams involved in Europe that their chances of success are being jeopardised.
"We're not giving our teams a chance to be successful in Europe," said Manchester United's manager, whose side are at home to Everton in a Premier League game at 4pm on Sunday and then travel to Spain for a Champions League match at Real Madrid on Wednesday.
"There's no fairness at all," Ferguson said. "It's ridiculous to think that we play on the Sunday and Real Madrid play on the Saturday with that extra day's rest. Other countries in Europe make sacrifices for their top teams in Europe."
Ferguson claims the physical demands of facing Everton and Real in such close proximity dictate that he will have to indulge in radical squad rotation. "It will be different teams," he said. "The team on Sunday will not be the team that plays on Wednesday.
"What can you do? Not turn up? I've complained about it. Do you think they listened?" said a man who accepts the idea of boycotting an inconveniently scheduled television fixture must remain a fantasy. "I'd love to do that," he acknowledged, smiling.
Despite United's nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League, Ferguson regards his plan to field two very different XIs in Manchester and Madrid as a necessity rather than a luxury. "It wouldn't matter what our position in the league was it would be about commonsense and using our squad," he said. "I trust the squad of players I've got, they're all internationals, they're all good players and there's not one reason why I can't play them all in different team selections.
"The players are all buying into it very well, all contributing in their own way and all giving us a better chance in the various competitions we're in."
Ferguson's mood was not improved on Friday when he was fined £12,000 after being found guilty of misconduct by the Football Association. The charge – which United's manager denied – was brought after his verbal attack on the assistant referee Simon Beck following the 1-1 draw at Tottenham last month.
Before being forced to write a cheque to the FA, United's manager had expressed his annoyance with one of its key employees, Stuart Pearce, after the England Under-21 coach's revelation that Phil Jones was suffering from shingles. "Phil Jones should be OK irrespective of Stuart Pearce coming out and declaring he had shingles, which we thought was confidential," Ferguson said. "We're disappointed.
"It's something we have to address. You hope these things don't happen but it's difficult. You're dealing with a big unit in terms of the FA in terms of how news can leak out. In this case, it shouldn't have gone any further than our doctor's confidence and their doctor's confidence."
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