Mon. Jan 18th, 2021

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hits back at Man United great Gary Neville

5 min read

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Gary Neville in the continuing debate about the three substitution rule.

Former Manchester United defender Neville, now a prominent pundit on Sky Sports, believes the current situation – reduced from five to three after special measures were introduced for Project Restart last term – is making the division ‘more competitive’.

The Premier League met on Thursday but the subject of substitutes was not raised – despite managers reportedly weighted in favour of change.

Klopp, a keen advocate for the return of five subs, has now told England boss Gareth Southgate it will hand him a ‘problem’ ahead of a rescheduled Euro 2020 next summer.

He also hit back at Neville and asserted he is speaking on behalf of player welfare across the Premier League.


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Speaking for almost five minutes, Klopp said: “I told you about the facts, that in the managers meeting [in November], if we would have voted that day, which we were not allowed to, it would have been through 100 per cent with 15 or 16 votes, whatever.

“That it didn’t happen since then is a sign some shareholders and CEOs and sporting directors see differently from their managers. That is not a good sign, really, to be honest.

“These people now really ignore player welfare. Coaches don’t do that anymore but these people do it, and that’s not okay.

“If you don’t have a chance to vote for it you have to accept it for the moment, but because it is player welfare, by the way, mental health and physical health, it is the full package, we will not stop fighting for it because it is just the right thing to do.

“I got numbers from the Scottish league, they had 65% substitutions for load management, 30% for tactical reasons and 5% for injury reasons.

“I don’t have the English numbers for the moment because it takes a while to get them and it looks completely different here.

“How is that, when people tell me now that we don’t make enough changes anyway? The problem with the three subs is that if you’re 100% it’s a two-sub rule at the moment.

“The third sub you always have to keep, sometimes two subs, because you see on the pitch so many players on the edge and you don’t know who goes down first. That’s the problem.

“You cannot make early changes or you finish the game with nine or ten players, and the Premier League is too strong for that.

“I know what people said about it and I was kind of disappointed or angry in some moments. I’m not, it’s just the right thing to do.



Klopp was fuming after his side drew 1-1 at Brighton on Saturday

“I’m pretty sure it is a fact. I’m sure we will discuss it early again, because of the influence of three subs.

“Now pretty much all teams have to play every three days, it will be massive for everybody from now on and every team will feel the difference.

“And next summer it will become a problem for Gareth Southgate. All of the players Gareth wants to pick play [European] football most of them, pretty much all.

“Most of them are playing three times a week, to do that from February, on again, and play three times a week all the time. Gareth will get what we give him if we stick with three subs.

“If we stick with three subs, he has a problem then, so it is an FA problem. My understanding, and Scott Parker mentioned it in the manager meeting, he said three subs would be better because five subs suit bigger squads.

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Manchester United were hit by a double Neymar sucker-punch as they lost 3-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in their crucial Champions League match on Wednesday.

It means United travel to Germany needing a point from their final group match against RB Leipzig to qualify for the last 16.

Before then, the Reds have a tricky Premier League trip to West Ham to negotiate at the weekend.

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“But he doesn’t think we should vote about it, we should just decide about it. Not us, obviously, just the Premier League or the FA. Just because we haven’t voted about it yesterday, doesn’t mean the problem goes smaller. The problem stays.

“I don’t have, in the moment, really, five players to change. I can bring in the kids, and it’s our problem, it’s nothing to do with a general problem, but it’s about all the players and load management and nothing else.

“It’s not about getting an advantage. It’s load management for dealing with the problem with this Covid situation in the best possible way.

“We cannot just ignore it because some people say it will be an advantage. It is not about an advantage.

“I heard now Gary Neville said I didn’t understand it. I can’t remember what he said exactly. But it’s not about Liverpool.

“Whatever he thinks is maybe evidence of how he would do it, how he would deal with a situation like that. But he cannot, or should not think I am like him because I am not like him. I speak about all the players.”

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