Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says a lack of a winter break is a key factor behind English clubs’ poor recent record in the Champions League.

Teams from the Premier League have only progressed beyond the last 16 on four occasions since Chelsea won the tournament in 2012.

Mourinho criticised organisers of England’s top flight last season during United’s gruelling run to a victorious Europa League final, accusing them of failing to protect their clubs competing in Europe.

“The only thing I can say is that Real Madrid last year played the last month in La Liga with the second team,” he said.

“They could do it and they arrived at the Champions League final with a fresh team.”

“For English teams, normally, that’s impossible. There’s no winter break, like in other countries, although I have to admit that I love the Christmas period in English football.

“Other countries protect their clubs. For example, Benfica played Friday. We always did that in Portugal and Italy. Paris Saint-Germain played Friday. That happens all the time.”

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