Wednesday 21 August 2019

Klopp wants changes to 'unacceptable' schedule

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA

Chris Bascombe

Jurgen Klopp fears an "unacceptable" fixture schedule will take its toll on his stars as he looks to navigate Liverpool through seven competitions this season.

Klopp has long considered the gruelling calendar a farce, and with Liverpool participating in the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar in December, there is potential for mid-season chaos. Premier League and potential domestic cup ties will have to be rearranged.

Liverpool have sought clarification from Fifa on the dates and format of the Qatar tournament. The European champions want to know whether senior players are obliged to be part of the squad. Klopp is a long-term advocate of reducing the workload of the world's top players - not only those at Anfield - but instead he sees the demands increasing.

"We sit here and it sounds like I am having a moan or whatever. It is just that the situation, in the long term, is not acceptable," Klopp said. "It looks like nobody can imagine a week without football in the year. When did that happen? It is difficult for the boys. Everything will be fine this season. But in the long term? We have to change it. There must be breaks.

"Be brave. Don't treat every game like it is the last of a decade."

Klopp says he is especially concerned about the workload of Sadio Mane, who he confirmed will not be available for the Community Shield against Manchester City a week on Sunday as he returns to pre-season training last of all, a week before the start of the Premier League, when Liverpool will play Norwich City on August 9.

"Sadio Mane's season, after he played the (Africa Cup of Nations) final, will be 13 months. A 13-month season, that is how it is," Klopp said.

"Ask him how much holiday he has had. He's played pretty much every game for Senegal. He's played each game for us. Every international break, he is away. Ask him.

"The pressure is everywhere. We need to calm this down. We need proper breaks, then you will get world-class performances. Then you can enjoy these boys in the long term and it will be easier for the younger ones to come through."

After criticising the format of the Uefa Nations League, Klopp felt his concerns were vindicated by the poor quality of the competition, held soon after the Champions League final.

Liverpool's start to the campaign is hectic, with the Super Cup final against Chelsea in Istanbul on August 14. Both clubs agree it makes no sense for two English sides to fly to Turkey for a glorified exhibition match when both would willingly play nearer home. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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