Thu. Jan 28th, 2021

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Jurgen Klopp renews criticism of fixture scheduling and substitution rules

5 min read

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has renewed his criticism of Premier League kick-off times, a view which has been echoed by Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Klopp went on a rant in his post-match interview after his side drew 1-1 with Brighton in Saturday’s 12:30pm kick-off following Wednesday night’s 2-0 Champions League defeat by Atalanta.

The match saw James Milner forced off with a hamstring injury, with the midfielder joining the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the club’s treatment room.

Klopp was angry that his side had been selected for the early televised kick-off, while he also reiterated his view that the Premier League should allow five substitutes in order to protect players from injury during the condensed winter schedule.


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His views echoed that of Manchester City boss Guardiola, who called the current situation a “disaster” earlier this month and called for five substitutes to come back.

“I think we are going to fight [for its return],” Guardiola told BBC Radio 5 Live. “All the other clubs and countries play five substitutions because they understood that the situation is completely unusual in terms of the pandemic.

“No break, no rest and everyone is at home. All the other countries do it, but here it looks like it likes to be special, different. That is not good because we don’t protect the players and we should do it.”

Guardiola’s Manchester United counterpart Solskjaer has made similar points, bemoaning his side’s schedule following their 3-1 win over Everton earlier this month.

“The kick-off time set us up to fail,” Solskjaer said, as reported by BBC Sport. “We have been to Turkey, played loads of games this season already, we got back Thursday morning and we are playing Saturday lunchtime, it’s an absolute shambles.”

Pressure was increased on the Premier League to look at its fixture scheduling and the return of five substitutes following Klopp’s fiery interview with BT Sport’s Des Kelly on Saturday.

Here is the full transcript of what the Liverpool boss had to say.

Des Kelly: “James Milner, hamstring, is it?

Jurgen Klopp: “Yeah. Congratulations.

DK: “Not me, personally?

JK: “No, but you work for them. Hamstring, surprise, and they had injuries as well. But ask Chris Wilder how we can avoid that.

DK: “Maybe you’re firing at the wrong target. We are broadcasters, we abide with the Premier League rules and the Premier League makes the rules. Shouldn’t you be talking to the Premier League?

JK: “I don’t know how often I have to say it, but you picked the 12:30 kick-off, not you personally, but you did it! Us on 12:30, between now and New Year, there’s one more Wednesday and then Saturday 12:30.

DK: “But you’re saying we picked the 12:30, it’s a Premier League slot.

JK: “I’ve told you now a couple of times, these are difficult times.

DK: “I know they’re difficult times – the stadium is empty! Of course it is. The broadcasters are supporting the game.

JK: “Yeah, if we play at 5:30, or 3pm, it’s exactly the same.

DK: “That has different ramifications. Your chief executive should be with other chief executives to discuss this. If you come down here and just have a go at the broadcasters, it’s not gonna change anything.

JK: “I’m just saying it how it is.

DK: “You’re saying it’s criminal.

JK: “Yeah. After Wednesday, Saturday 12:30 is really, really dangerous for the players. You don’t do that often.

DK: “Who’s to say the broadcasters don’t care and that’s the problem? That isn’t the problem.

JK: “Why did you pick us against Crystal Palace then, if you care?

DK: “I didn’t pick it, but every pick is picked by the Premier League.

JK: “It’s such a special season, we agreed in another time. Yes, we did.

DK: “No, no, no. If it’s all about player welfare, then why did the Premier League clubs lock the five substitutes?

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Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Champions League with a 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes’ brace set Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on course for a third successive win, with Marcus Rashford and Daniel James also on the scoresheet.

MEN Sport will bring you all the reaction and analysis from United’s win and the build up to the Southampton game this weekend. You can have it all delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our daily newsletter. Just put your email address in the sign-up box at the top of this article, or simply follow this link. It’s free and only takes a few seconds.

JK: “That’s very interesting, but when we had the talk between the managers a week ago now, I think, it was 15-5, maybe 16-4, for five subs now. Since then, nothing happened because you need 14 votes because Chris Wilder says constantly I’m selfish, so I think all of the things he’s said shows that he’s selfish but it’s not too important. I was in a similar position than he is when I was at Mainz when it was all about staying in the league. If you can’t do five subs, for example, if we had five subs today, I take off Robbo and bring Kostas on to save Robbo, not to make our game better, just to save him and that’s the situation. It’s not about changing tactics, or the system, all this kind of thing, it’s not like this. It’s just to save the players. From now on, we will see what happens.

DK: “We agree with you and I understand what you’re saying, but you’re actually going about it in a strange way. You’re attacking the broadcasters, instead of getting the support you need in the Premier League meeting.

JK: “I only go for broadcasters with a Wednesday and 12:30 and seven managers have a similar problem and they all agree. I wanna stop doing it because it doesn’t help, but the problem is whoever signs the contract. Yes, our shareholders or whatever did that, that’s true. It’s a problem but in this season, it’s a bigger problem because of no pre-season, because of intensity and all this kind of stuff. It’s not okay. We’ve had this slot three times, I spoke a lot about it. Look at who else had it three times – nobody. It’s a problem for me to pick a team.

DK: “We can’t change it, but you have to change it via the boardroom we’ve spoken about. But we could probably go on forever.”

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