Cruyff: Louis van Gaal cannot complain about Christmas fixtures in England

Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff has told Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal to stop complaining about fixtures over the Christmas period.

Van Gaal took charge of the Red Devils over the summer, and it is the first time in his career that he has had to deal with football being played over the Christmas period.

Spells at Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have all taken part in countries which allow a break in the footballing schedule over the latter weeks of December and into January, although United have already had to play eight games since the beginning of December - with Premier League and FA Cup ties arranged.

Whilst there have been calls in previous years for the FA to introduce a winter break for the good of the players, the high intensity fixtures have become part of English tradition, and it has mostly been foreign coaches who are keen on the idea. Van Gaal has continued this tradition by suggesting that one should be brought in, claiming that playing so much is not good for the players or fans when pressed on the subject last month.

“Everybody knows the body cannot recover within 48 hours,” the Dutchman was quoted as saying.

“Therefore there is a rule within Uefa and Fifa that you cannot play the games within two days. The scientists have proven it, everybody knows it and, in spite of that, we have to play.

“It is the culture of England. I don’t mind, but it’s not good for the players, for the health of the players, and it’s not good for the game.”

However, a former Dutch great has suggested that van Gaal can not complain with the festive scheduling, as the coach chose to work in England knowing full well that the fixtures would come thick and fast throughout December and January.

Writing in his column in De Telegraaf, Ajax and Netherlands icon Johan Cruyff continued a long-running feud with van Gaal by saying: “If you choose [a job in] England, then you choose their successful system, which is based on the proposition that the stadiums open as soon as the fans are available to watch, which is the holiday period..

“Playing football between Christmas and New Year is a war of attrition and thus in favour of physically stronger teams.”

“It has been working [well] since time immemorial and in 100 years it will still be so.

“Complaining makes no sense if everyone else around you is happy. Moreover, everybody is well paid for working over the holiday period.”

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