Thursday 20 July 2017

Jurgen Klopp introduces new international break strategy to keep Liverpool firing at the Premier League summit

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Jack de Menezes

Jürgen Klopp has gone back on his word to never give his Liverpool squad time off during the season after allowing them a few days of rest during the international break in an effort to combat the rigours of the Premier League.

Klopp’s reign at Liverpool now stretches over 13 months, with the German replacing Brendan Rodgers in October 2015. Upon his arrival in the Premier League, Klopp confirmed that he would reduce the number of days off given to the squad by the previous regime.

Read more: Liverpool step up chase for 'Iranian Messi' as Jurgen Klopp targets attacking reinforcements

But after guiding Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table, Klopp has insisted that the players do need extra time to recover compared to other leagues in Europe because of the busy schedule they have ahead of them combined with the physical nature of English football.

As a result, those players who are not away on international duty have been given some time off to recover from the last three months of football, before reporting back at the end of the week. That means the likes of James Milner, Emre Can and Joel Matip will be able to spend a few days at leisure before reporting back to Klopp, with Dejan Lovren, Loris Karius, Lucas Leiva and Alberto Moreno also not involved with their international sides over the next fortnight.

Klopp admitted this week that his improved understanding of the English game has led him to perform a U-turn on players receiving time off, and admitted he was “silly” for thinking they could play and train non-stop throughout the season

“I don't need a break but we won't have a lot of players here,” he said.

“When I came here the players had a few days off. I changed it and said: ‘How can they have three or four days off or something?’ It was a silly decision. It’s only because I was not used to it. Now we are proper English coaches, we know about the fixtures, the intensity of the next few months.

“Each possibility for a little break, you have to use. That's what we have to do.

“They still have a programme – to train and stay fit. Not all of them can go wherever they want because if you’re a bit injured you have to be here.

“But a real training session does not make sense with five or six players. A few days off and then we'll start again.”

One thing Klopp is keen to have though is a training match behind closed doors, where Liverpool defender Joe Gomez could make his return to action a year after suffering a serious knee ligament injury during his maiden season at Anfield.

“We will try to have a game behind closed doors,” Klopp added. “The result of that won't be important but it's an opportunity for us to give players match time.

“From Sunday or Monday onwards, when the international players start to come back, we will prepare for the next game.”

The game comes on 19 November at Southampton, with the Saints displaying erratic form over the last six matches in which they’ve recorded two wins, a draw and three losses. However, they did manage to hold Manchester City to a 1-1 draw, and have the talent to threaten the Premier League leaders as they try to consolidate their place at the table summit.

(© Independent News Service)

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