Pep Guardiola must ready himself for chaos, says Jurgen Klopp
German boss fires warning to City's manager-in-waiting
Published 11/01/2016 | 02:30
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the biggest challenge facing Pep Guardiola when he moves to English football will be adapting to the busiest fixture list in the world.
Klopp said he knew the demands when he accepted the Anfield job - and he knows Guardiola will be similarly prepared if he joins Manchester City as expected next summer - but it does not make the reality any easier to deal with.
"We knew about it, but to feel it is different," Klopp said. "Pep is so experienced, for sure. I'm sure he will buy a few players and have a good team, have 35 players or whatever. I don't have to tell Pep Guardiola anything because he is that experienced.
"I have had a similar situation before with injuries, but with the winter break, they come back. The number of games is the biggest difference. When I came here, I didn't know there were two rounds in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup. I had people in Germany, saying [after the Capital One Cup first-leg win at Stoke] 'yeah, you're in the final again!'
"In Germany, when you tell people about the FA Cup that if you draw you play again, they say 'what?' Here you have penalties and extra time, but only after the second game. That's the thing, it's the number of games, football, football, football. With a perfect pre-season you are prepared for a long, long journey. What I can say about here is very positive, great country, great people, the food is much better than everybody said. OK, the weather is not great - like everyone said!"
Liverpool are in the midst of fixture overload during a period where they have endured an injury crisis. The 2-2 draw in the third round of the FA Cup with Exeter on Friday added to the workload. Liverpool will face a schedule of five games in 13 days before the end of January, starting with the Premier League home fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester United and culminating in the second leg against Stoke.
Klopp indicated he will have little choice but to play the same inexperienced line-up in the third round replay with Exeter, despite the risks which almost led to a shock result on Friday.
The German coach is the latest respected overseas import to show his bemusement at the way the fixture calendar is put together - and at Anfield his observations merely echo those of predecessors Gerard Houllier when he moved to English football in 1998 and Rafa Benitez in 2004. Complaints about fixture congestion are revived every season with the Premier League and Football Association executives most in the firing line from critics.
The reality remains that it is the chief executives and chairmen of the clubs themselves who are most culpable. Few, if any, are prepared to vote on reducing the Premier League to 18 clubs, so many fearing the financial consequences of relegation.
With more money coming into the game via broadcasting rights, there is little will within any Premier League boardroom to sanction a move for fewer clubs to share the cash.
Different options for reducing the impact of cup competitions have also been explored but the chief executives and chairman of all 92 clubs have shown themselves incapable of producing or supporting any sort of practical plan - again, the financial consequences of fewer games or radical changes to the cup competitions are of far greater consideration than the complaints of their own managers.
Indeed, the major clubs are worsening the problems by agreeing to tiring overseas tours in the summer - again because of the financial rewards. Klopp is therefore extending the tradition of highly respected coaches, new to English football, identifying the fundamental problem and flaw in this country. Like those who came before, he will be frustrated if he hopes any meaningful action will be taken.
The Liverpool manager's immediate problem ahead of the visit of Arsenal in midweek is who will be available to face the league leaders. His decision to rest all his senior players except Christian Benteke means most of the side that defeated Stoke last week will be fresh, although Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren are out.
Kolo Toure is expected to be fit and there will be a fitness check on Mamadou Sakho.
Daniel Sturridge continues to train alone. Klopp's hopes of ensuring the striker trains nine consecutive days with the first team proving as optimistic as getting the England man on the pitch at all.