Jose Mourinho has demanded to know when Tottenham Hotspur will play their postponed Premier League clash with Fulham and warned organisers not to “punish” his side with their scheduling plans for the second time this season.
The Spurs boss previously labelled officials “unprofessional” after calling off the Dec. 30 fixture just three hours before the 6 p.m. kick-off, a decision the Premier League defended by saying they did not receive full test results and medical advice until that afternoon.
The season began with Manchester City and Manchester United missing the opening weekend to ensure they were given the same summer break as their rivals but the dates of those postponed fixtures were only confirmed last week as matches begin to pile up resulting from postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks at various clubs.
A flurry of positive tests in the Fulham squad led to games against Tottenham and Burnley being delayed with Mourinho urging officials to avoid a repeat of the start of Spurs’ season, when they had to play nine games in 22 days as they went through three rounds of Europa League qualifiers in addition to their domestic programme.
At the time, Mourinho branded that schedule “a total joke” and ahead of Tuesday’s EFL Cup semifinal against Brentford, he said: “I’m not happy with the fixtures since day one.
“And on day one, I was far from imagining that I would have a game postponed.
“For me the problem is not that they [United and City] didn’t start the season at the same time, I understand that because they deserve that extra week by playing Europa League and Champions League last season.
“What I don’t understand is how can you start the season without knowing when that match is going to be played? I believe that we only know that last week and I believe that we knew that last week only because there were new matches to be postponed. It was the only reason why we know, in my opinion.
“I would like to know when we play against Fulham. To speak about the Carabao Cup final, I refuse to do it because maybe Brentford plays the final and not us. But I would like to know when I am going to play against Fulham refusing totally to be punished by a congestion of crazy fixtures like we were in the beginning of the season.
“But at the beginning of the season, you can cope a little bit with people that forgot that Tottenham could be in that situation of playing a Europa League playoff. So, I’m waiting.”
The Premier League declined to comment when contacted by ESPN.
The EFL Cup Final has been moved to April 25 in the hope more fans will be able to attend as the COVID-19 vaccines are administered across the United Kingdom but that delay could create further fixture headaches for the finalists with the Premier League due to finish less than a month later.
Spurs must first beat Championship promotion hopefuls Brentford and will have to do so without Erik Lamela, one of three Tottenham players found to have breached COVID-19 regulations during the Christmas period.
Lamela was pictured at a gathering with Giovani Lo Celso, Sergio Reguilon, West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini and members of their families with Spurs condemning their actions in a strongly worded statement.
Mourinho was coy over why Lamela could not play or if he had been sanctioned by the club.
“It is not for me to tell you. I just tell you that against Brentford, he cannot play,” he said.
Sources have told ESPN that the three will be fined for their actions.
The lack of Lamela complicates preparations for what the Portuguese admitted is his biggest match since succeeding Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs boss in November 2019 with the club seeking its first trophy in 13 years.
“Yeah, I think [it is my biggest Spurs game], in the perspective of the club chasing silverware for many years, I would say so,” he added.
“Of course we have always important matches. Last season we had the match at [Crystal] Palace that could give us yes or no participation in this season’s Europa League. Saturday’s game against Leeds [a 3-0 win] was very important because we came from a few without victories in the Premier League but I would say a semifinal is always a very important match. More important than semifinals, only finals.”