Jürgen Klopp has expressed bewilderment at Liverpool’s new-year fixture schedule and claimed the demands of two Premier League games in less than 46 hours explains why England routinely fail at international tournaments.
Klopp was named Premier League manager of the month for September but any satisfaction was dulled by changes to his team’s festive-season schedule. BT Sport has moved Liverpool’s home game against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve to a 5.30pm kick-off and Klopp’s side are scheduled to kick off at Sunderland at 3pm on 2 January, 45 and a half hours later. They will also be without a game on Boxing Day after Sky Sports switched Stoke City’s visit to Anfield to 27 December with a 5.15pm kick off.
Asked for his reaction to winning the manager of the month award for the first time, Klopp replied: “Now I have seen the fixtures I am not too happy. We have less than 48 hours between our game against Man City on December 31 and in Sunderland on the 2nd. Forty-eight hours is an interesting idea but less than 48 hours I cannot believe. I learn more and more about this league and maybe I have to ask someone if we can ask if there will be another time for us at Sunderland.”
Klopp may struggle to have that wish granted unless Sunderland consent to a change of kick-off time and he took aim at broadcasters for allegedly damaging England’s prospects on the international stage. The Liverpool manager also appeared to mock the former Wales assistant manager Raymond Verheijen for his frequent criticisms of Klopp’s training regime on Twitter. “Our job is to do everything we can to win games,” Klopp said. “I understand tradition – I would never say Boxing Day is not a good idea as I love it and I have absolutely no problem. But now having a match day with two days between, there should be another possibility. I don’t know why we play Monday. Is January 2 a special day in England?
“Forty-eight hours between two games – how does this work? And then you will sit there and say ‘You didn’t perform too well, how did this happen’ or ‘Injuries. Oh’, and then this Dutch guy says ‘The training is not too good’. How do you prepare a team for this? Do you say ‘Only 50% against City because we have Sunderland on Monday’. It doesn’t sound like it is right. Everyone is asking: ‘Why is England not too successful in big tournaments?’ Ask what other big countries are doing at this time of year – they have their legs on the sofa and are watching English football.”
Verheijen was quick to respond, tweeting: “Liverpool manager Klopp caused 20 hamstring injuries in 10 months but keeps blaming external factors for injuries.”
In terms of injuries, Klopp refused to rule out Adam Lallana or Georginio Wijnaldum from featuring in Monday’s game with Manchester United at Anfield. The pair are receiving intensive treatment on groin and hip injuries respectively and will be given every opportunity to prove their fitness.
He also insisted Wayne Rooney remains “world-class” and a major threat to his team’s prospects of a sixth consecutive win despite losing his first-team place with United and England. “I know a lot about what everyone is saying in this moment about Wayne Rooney. I can’t think the same things, even if I am the manager of Liverpool and I am not allowed to like players of Manchester United. He is 30-years-old and has had more than a decent career in the Premier League. The longer you are part of something the more people think they can talk about you.
“José Mourinho, Sam Allardyce, Gareth Southgate – they all know about his value to each team he plays in. He’s a goalscorer, he’s always a threat. It is a situation that can happen in a long career but from my side Rooney is a world-class player and world-class players are always a threat.”