Plenty has been said and written about the fixture schedule row involving Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Klopp has raised questions about player welfare amid a hectic run of matches after the 2020-21 season started later than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic. Liverpool have suffered a string of injuries to key players – the latest of which affecting James Milner in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion. Klopp was furious about having to play in the early kick-off on Saturday – after a Champions League group match in midweek – and was involved in a heated exchange during his post-match interview with broadcaster BT Sport. The German has also called for a maximum of five substitutions per game to be introduced. Gary Neville, who questioned those complaints, claiming it is simply a tactic to try to gain a psychological edge, as used by former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Gary Neville said: “I don’t think Jurgen Klopp’s got a point around fatigue, around the length of time of pre-season or about the Saturday kick-offs. My view is that when you become a winning manager, and this is where Sir Alex got to and why they called him a whinging so and so for many years, the best managers they just want to win. The biggest risk to Klopp winning the league again this season is another big injury or two. So, he wants to try and gain that advantage to put some psychological thing into people’s minds. Sir Alex Ferguson did it for 15 or 16 years. Klopp has been the best manager in interviews for the last few years, he’s been the best manager on the pitch, he’s connected with the fans better than anybody else, his style of football is fantastic, but on Saturday he got done in an interview, and that’s very rare. He didn’t get his story right, he hasn’t got his evidence to back him up either in games played or in the Saturday kick-off slots. He just lost this particular one having been brilliant in all his other interviews that he’s done. He’s trying to gain an advantage to get results, that’s it. I played for a manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and there’s hundreds of these quotes. Every single season he wanted that advantage. He wanted the ability to recover more, to play at different times, so it suited Manchester United, and that’s what Klopp wants now. What Klopp has done at Liverpool over the last three years is unbelievable, but his squad this season is just wilting a little bit under the fact they’ve had that three years. There might be an element of Covid and sport science, but the rest time has been there. The games are not coming thicker and faster than any other season. The Saturday kick-offs are not coming thicker and faster than any other season so the exceptional points Klopp is making haven’t happened.”
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