Tuesday 12 November 2019

Jurgen Klopp calls for Carabao Cup overhaul as he rules out splitting Liverpool squad

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp wants football’s authorities to find a solution to fixture congestion (Martin Rickett/PA)
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp wants football’s authorities to find a solution to fixture congestion (Martin Rickett/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ruled out the prospect of fielding separate teams in two competitions in the same week of December, as the discussions over when their Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa can be played have yet to reach a conclusion.

The European champions are due to meet Villa while they are in Qatar playing in the FIFA World Club Cup and there have been suggestions that Klopp may leave some players in England to play in the Carabao Cup tie.

Yet speaking ahead of this weekend's Premier League game against Villa, that notion was swiftly dismissed by the Liverpool boss, who urged English football chiefs to revise some of its traditions in their two domestic cup competitions.

"No final decision yet, but if we would play while we are in Qatar that would be two different teams, but we cannot leave any players at home for the Carabao Cup," he stated.

"We have two games there in a very busy period. It's not that we can go there with 11 players and say these 11 guys play the two games in Qatar and the other guys play at home in England against Aston Villa. It doesn't work like this. So we have to make a decision and we will make the decision, but not yet."

Klopp went on to insist the football authorities need to look at the fixture schedule and didn't pull any punches as he suggested the number of matches being crammed into the season needs to be reduced.

"The discussion is obvious that it is too much, absolutely obvious and everyone in the game know this," he said, as he admitted the demands on his players is stretching them to breaking point.

"At the end of January after a very busy schedule in December, there are two semi-finals (in the Carabao Cup). If you are going to keep that competition, why have two semi-finals?

"In March and April, we have FA Cup games at the weekend and we have discussed this every year I have been here. This is the only country that no-one wants to touch the League Cup or the FA Cup.

"Then on top of that, UEFA creates the Nations League to give the boys who are already busy more intense games and we look at why the best players in the world cannot perform as good as they can for as long as they want.

"People then say you need a bigger squad. The game is not made for bigger squads. At the moment there is an imbalance between the number of players in the squad, the competitions you play and a big gap between the breaks the boys need.

"They have two weeks off a year, in a physically demanding game. The solutions, I think there are a few possible, but the leagues have to sit and really discuss and think about the players and maybe not their wallet. We discuss it always on the back of the money we earn. Somebody has to think about how many games."

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen believes the fixture pile-up for Liverpool is a problem the game as a whole needs to address, as he suggests forcing teams to play more than two games a week is unreasonable.

"Yes managers will complain and they don't want to risk injuries and players will always want to play because that's the nature of the beast, but we've just got to balance it," Owen told the BBC.

"The big teams who are asked to play all these games have got the big money to invest so they can compete on all four fronts.

"If you're asking someone to play on a Sunday and a Wednesday it's just about OK, but anything shorter than that, I think you're pushing your luck a little bit."

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