Glenn - It's Crazy

Glenn Roeder admits he is very concerned by a festive timetable that forces West Ham to play five games in 15 days - and says such a scenario favours the big clubs.

"I hope we can draw a line under injury and illness for the second half of the season because it will be a crucial factor in our survival," he says, knowing that the likelihood of going through such an intense spell without further mishaps is a hugely optimistic one.

"It is absolutely crazy and no wonder the European countries laugh at us - as they do.

"I travel in Europe a lot and when they see our fixture list, they find it amazing that people are asking our players to play so many games in such a short space of time.

"And teams that have got tiny squads like ourselves are even more up against the wall.

"How we can expect Nigel Winterburn to be able to play on Boxing Day and at Blackburn I don't know - at 39 you cannot expect Nigel to be able to put in two Premiership performances in 48 hours.

"I will be absolutely amazed if we can get Nigel through the Christmas period without giving him a rest; in fact I am pretty certain we will have to rest him for the Blackburn game away.

"I expect him to play on Saturday against Bolton, on Thursday against Fulham, and then I am sure I will have to rest him - when you are 39 you can only go to the well so often.

"The people who devised this fixture list are not in touch with the modern game.

"When Europe is going into a break we are still ploughing through and on."

His proposal is simple, if radical.

"We could easily continue until the end of May and stretch the season out more, and it wouldn't damage the attendances we would get in the Premiership," he insists.

"It would allow the players four weeks holiday, which is sufficient, instead of them getting seven or eight weeks.

"The players in France know they are finished on the 1st of June and they are training again on the 1st of July.

"It makes sense to me because four weeks is plenty, but by squeezing it all in now to allow two months holiday doesn't make sense.

"This is not designed by people who have played the sport and have got an understanding of the modern game, the pace it is played at, and the amount of energy that is expended in every match that these players play.

"There is not enough recovery time to get the same level of performance 48 hours after you have played a game - and only the big clubs who have got 24, 26 senior players will get away with it.

"The season needs to be stretched out that bit longer, and it can be organised; I won't have anyone say it can't be achieved - anything can be if you want to."

He says he has the support of managerial colleagues and adds:

"Thankfully the European coaches that have worked in the Premiership have been saying it ever since they arrived, that they were amazed when they looked at our congestion of fixtures

. "The game has changed and it is no good ex-players of my era saying 'oh, we played 60 games a season'.

"It is a different ball game entirely compared to what it was then in terms of tempo and pace of the game."

Talking of injuries, Glenn hopes there is light at the end of the tunnel for Fredi Kanoute and says:

"Fredi Kanoute has been a huge loss and no one could have predicted when he got injured on the 29th of September that he would still not have played for us come the 21st of December.

"He is a huge player - literally!

"He is one of our big players, one of our match winners, and the trouble is now he has been out longer than a close season.

"12 weeks is longer than a summer break, and now we are trying to get him back to full fitness and expecting him to play at the top of his form immediately - which is asking a lot.

"But the question has to be asked and the day is getting closer to when he is going to be fit to play."

But Glenn still does not know if he will be fit to play Bolton and says:

"I have got to reserve my judgment on that one; we will have to wait and see - I admit he is not a definite starter.

"I am telling our supporters three weeks ago that I thought he would be fine and he didn't make it for the Southampton game, so I don't want to bring any more false dawns to our supporters.

"All I can say is that every day he is getting closer, and we will just have to wait and see about the weekend."

As for Don Hutchison, who played a scheduled 45 minutes of the reserves' draw with Fulham on Tuesday, he says:

"Don will be in the squad - that is all I am prepared to say."

Glenn is reluctant to use injuries as an excuse for the team's position at the bottom but he does admit:

"It is incredible, something no manager can legislate for.

"I don't think any club takes more care of their players than we do because we are so conscious of the size of our squad.

"It is the smallest senior squad in the Premiership so at times we feel we wrap them up in cotton wool, even though we would like to do more work with them because we are frightened of picking up injuries.

"Even when you do that you still pick up injuries you can't legislate for, like Di Canio getting injured against Southampton, certainly Fredi against Chelsea, van der Gouw getting injured by his own player in a reserve game, and Don Hutchison having had a couple of delays.

"The original repair on his cruciate ligament injury has been fine for six to eight weeks, but he has had a couple of set backs which you can't legislate for.

"Garcia had a stress fracture - and Eduoard Cisse was just the cherry on the cake with him going down with chicken pox this week...."