Belfast Telegraph

Bruce hits out at fixtures

Hull City boss Steve Bruce has called for the hectic Christmas programme of club football to be scrapped claiming the demands on players are "ridiculous".

Bruce - who has ruled himself out of replacing Alan Pardew as Newcastle manager - believes the quality of the football is suffering because players are unable to maintain the same intensity with matches coming thick and fast.

He said: "Its ridiculous to ask players to play three or four games in a week.

"We saw the other day that the intensity goes out of the game, there are a lot of tired players and it increases the risk of them getting injuries.

"It also affects the spectacle - you cannot ask a footballer to play day in day out with the same intensity. You can see it in the statistics of how much they run. It is a ridiculous time of year and I hope we do change and catch up with rest of Europe.

"We should have a winter break or when players go to play in big tournaments in the summer, when they get there they are physically shattered because the Premier League is so demanding.

"I know it's steeped in tradition that we play on Boxing Day but I do think to have two or three weeks off now would be the right way."

Bruce's side are only a point off the relegation zone and entertain Everton on New Years Day, with Roberto Martinez's team also struggling for form.

He added: "Everton, with the expectation from last year, have had a different season and I believe that's down to the demands of Europe. And when you seem to be up against it their injury list is as long as ours, with key players missing.

"The one thing you want for the new year - and I'm sure Roberto Martinez is the same - is to stay injury-free because it has been cruel over the last couple of months."

Bruce, a boyhood Newcastle fan, said he was "flattered" to be linked with the position but is committed to Hull and has already turned down three offers from other clubs during his time at the Tigers.

He added: "I have a job to do here and it would be wrong for me to think of anything else other than get this club out of the position we are in and that's all I am focused on.

"It would be wrong for the speculation to keep carrying on for the club, for the supporters, for the players, I am determined to see this through and make sure we stay in the Premier League and build on the good work we have done in the last two hand a half years."

Liam Rosenior is a doubt for the game with an Achilles problem but f ellow defender James Chester is available again after suspension.

Midfielder Mohamed Diame (knee) and centre-back Michael Dawson (hamstring) are still out.

Meanwhile, Martinez admits that Everton must tighten up defensively at the KC Stadium in order to halt a run of poor away form stretching back over two months.

The Toffees have not won a Premier League match away from home since beating Burnley on October 26 and have picked up just a single point at Sunderland since then.

Martinez however is refusing to compromise on the club's tradition of entertaining possession football.

"Knowing what your philosophy is as a club is important and ours is one that I think fits very well," Martinez said at his press conference ahead of the Hull clash.

"It represents Everton from the Thirties to the great years in the Sixties, to winning titles in the Eighties and as a team we want to control the ball and as a team we are great in possession but in any team you need to be able to defend.

"At the moment we are suffering, sometimes through individual errors, sometimes you get three or four major decisions that don't go in your favour and they go against you and you have to cope with that.

"I think it's going to make us a stronger unit and there'll be a real fight to show who's ready to cope with our expectations.

"It's a bit of a negative run of results at the moment and we need to stop it but there's never a question mark over the style and how we want to play.

"What's a question mark is whether we've been good in the way we want to play and at the moment we've conceded too many goals for one reason or another and that's quite easy to rectify," the Spaniard added.

Martinez admits he and Bruce could both do to sign off 2014 with a win.

"It's vital for both teams for no reason other than getting a positive result," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph