Sam Allardyce blames Reds' injury woes on Jurgen Klopp's high-tempo pressing
Published 07/01/2016 | 02:30
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has inflamed his feud with Jürgen Klopp by claiming that the Liverpool head coach is responsible for the flurry of hamstring injuries at Anfield.
The Liverpool squad are decimated ahead of thir English FA Cup tie at Exeter tomorrow , with at least four of the absentees due to a hamstring issue. Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren added to Klopp's woes on Tuesday night, joining Divock Origi and Martin Skrtel with the same problem.
Allardyce believes that Klopp has underestimated the physical demands of English football.
"That is him [Klopp] asking his players to play a high-tempo pressing game from the top end. It's great that the players have been able to carry it out but I think it has kicked in now," Allardyce told Talksport.
"I don't think Jürgen has realised just how ferocious our league is at this period of time and because he has asked for that extra high energy, that extra 10 yards, these lads are fatiguing now with so many games in such a short period of time and are picking up these muscle strains.
"They are highly trained athletes more than ever before, and they become more susceptible to injuries by the amount of work they do in a game now."
Although Allardyce's comments are likely to be viewed as a domestic manager raising doubts over the methods of more celebrated Continental coaches, the former Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham manager has previously been regarded as a leading figure in attempting to modernise English football.
Having first called for a winter break over a decade ago during his time at the Reebok Stadium with Bolton, Allardyce insists that the increasing demands on players necessitate the need for a mid-season shutdown to be considered.
"I still hark on about having a break at this time to lessen the workload on players," Allardyce said.
"Stoke played the same team for the fourth game in a row [against Liverpool] and their lads looked like they couldn't run."
Former Liverpool manager Roy Evans also questioned the workload of players between games.
"I wonder what kind of training Jürgen is doing between matches," he said. "It seems like he is trying to do mini pre-seasons between games and you're playing at that intensity in games and then do heavy training sessions. You're going to end up with these muscle injuries."
Klopp will feel it is the fixture demands on his squad - already weakened by long-term absentees prior to his arrival - rather than his training methods that have caused recent problems.
Tuesday was Liverpool's 30th game of the season and the demands on his side have been exacerbated by long-term injuries to players that preceded his arrival.
The German coach has changed the training ground routine since replacing Brendan Rodgers. While Rodgers favoured possession-based, short-sided training games, Klopp prefers 11-a-side matches where the emphasis is on the tactical education of his players.
Liverpool's players have dismissed suggestions the training ground approach is a factor.
Midfielder Adam Lallana said: "We've had so many games recently that we've mainly been doing recovery sessions between games, so it's not as if the training has been really intensive. You can't blame that. Sometimes you are just unlucky with injuries and we've had a lot of bad luck recently. We certainly can't point the finger at anyone. "
Klopp will have little choice but to risk a young side in the FA Cup, especially with Arsenal and Man-chester United the next visitors to Anfield. Connor Randall, Brad Smith, Ryan Kent and Joao Teixeira are all under consideration.
The German at least has some senior players anxious for first-team action - not least Christian Benteke, who was left out at Stoke, and Joe Allen, who is desperate for more football having found himself out of favour.
Allen's future is uncertain as he enters the last 18 months of his contract with no suggestion of a renewal.
Liverpool will ease their injury crisis by recalling two of their young players.
Sheyi Ojo has ended his loan spell at Wolves and the winger is expected to go straight into the squad for the FA Cup tie at Exeter.
They also expect Tiago Ilori to return from Aston Villa after the Midlands club indicated they wanted to cancel the centre-half's season-long arrangement. It is unclear at this stage if Ilori will be in contention for a senior place.
Klopp (below) held meetings with this chief scout and head of recruitment yesterday to assess which centre-half to pursue to ease the defensive burden.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have completed their first signing of the January transfer window with teenager Marko Grujic joining the Merseyside club in a £5.1m deal.
Grujic will not become part of Klopp's squad until the summer, the transfer having been agreed on the basis that the 19-year-old returns to Red Star Belgrade for the final six months of the current season.
Liverpool have also signed the teenage Polish goalkeeper Kamil Grabara for £250,000. The 17-year-old will initially join the club's academy. (© Daily Telegraph, London)