Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has branded his side’s fixture list a “total joke”.
Spurs are in the midst of a possible nine games in 22 days as they pay the price for having to go through Europa League qualifying, which they have to juggle with the Premier League and Carabao Cup.
They were in Bulgaria on Thursday night as they beat Lokomotiv Plovdiv and are back in action at 12pm on Sunday with a trip to Southampton before embarking on two consecutive weeks of Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday games.
Leyton Orient are the opponents on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup before a trip to Macedonia in the Europa League 48 hours later and a home game with Newcastle on the Sunday.
If they progress past Orient, Chelsea could be waiting in the next round 48 hours after the Newcastle game, before another possible Europa League qualifier and then ending the hectic schedule with an away game at Manchester United.
“I hope it is (nine games in 22 days) because I wouldn’t like to be knocked out of the Europa League or even the Carabao Cup,” Mourinho said.
“But the people who make these decisions they forgot that one English team – not Tottenham – one English team could be us, could be Spurs, could be Wolves or Sheffield United or another one. They forgot this situation is not possible.
“This is a joke, this is a total joke, but here we go. We were very, very lucky that Leyton Orient beat Plymouth because Plymouth would be very, very far for us.
Spurs' gruelling schedule
- Sept 13 - Everton (H in Premier League)
- Sept 17 - Plovdiv (A in Europa League)
- Sept 20 - Southampton (A in PL)
- Sept 22 - Leyton Orient (A in Carabao Cup)
- Sept 24 - Shkendija (A in EL)
- Sept 27 - Newcastle (H in PL)
- Sept 29 - Possible Chelsea or Barnsley (H in CC)
- Oct 1 - Possible EL play-off
- Oct 3/4 - Man Utd (A in PL)
“But at this moment we are in Bulgaria, Saturday we will be in Southampton, Wednesday we will be flying again to Macedonia and so on and so on.
“It’s quite dramatic but I would prefer to be in this competition so let’s fight until we can.”
Spurs have not been helped by TV scheduling as their game at St Mary’s kicks off at 12pm on Sunday, which is not ideal considering they did not arrive back from Bulgaria until the early hours of Friday morning.
Mourinho does not have the luxury of being able to play a weakened side so will manage his players the best way he can.
“The reality is we are playing these matches for big things so when you lose a match in the Premier League, you lose three points, if today we lose then we are out of the Europa League so it’s difficult to manage both things at the same time,” Mourinho said after the match on Thursday night.
“But we are going to try to recover the best we can. The game could be 5pm or 6pm to give us more time but, no, it’s 12pm and that’s another great decision so it has to be, it has to be.
“We have to go, we have to travel and now of course we are going to arrive very, very late and going to stay together in our training ground to start tomorrow morning to prepare the best we can and at this moment, to prepare is to recover.”
Spurs will assess their squad to see if anyone who travelled to Bulgaria picked up any knocks, but Japhet Tanganga is definitely out with a thigh issue.