Jurgen Klopp claims Premier League fixture chiefs are committing “a crime” against football by pressing teams back into action within 48 hours of crunch Boxing Day games.
The run of games over Christmas and New Year is always hectic, and Liverpool’s Premier League title rivals Leicester City have landed a tricky double-header, starting with Thursday’s home clash with Klopp’s Reds.
After that 20:00 local time kick-off, Leicester are thrust back into action at West Ham at 17:30 on Saturday.
Manchester United, Tottenham and Everton are among the clubs who must play twice in the three days after Christmas, while Wolves and Manchester City have a similarly demanding run, but with games on Friday and Sunday.
City travel to face Wolves on Friday before a Sunday home clash with Sheffield United. Wolves, after their test against Pep Guardiola’s men, go to Anfield to face leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
Klopp, though, believes those in charge of the fixture list turn a deaf ear to what managers have to say.
He said: “None of the managers have a problem with Boxing Day. None of us. But playing on the 26th and then the 28th is a crime. That’s absolutely not okay, and yet we still have it. This year we have the 26th and the 29th and it’s like a holiday.
“I understand all the others who are not moaning, but telling that it just should not happen. It should not happen.
“There is no reason for giving teams less than 48 hours to play another Premier League game, but obviously we can say whatever we want and no-one is really interested.
“Every year it is the same for the coaches who are involved in those games on the 26th and the 28th… sports science does not give you anything to deal with it because there are things that are just as they are.
10 – @LFC lead the Premier League table by 10 points; in English top-flight history only one team with a 10+ point lead on Christmas Day has failed to win the title (Newcastle in 1995-96). Cheer. pic.twitter.com/ctM7iGdtAN
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 23, 2019
“The body needs a specific amount of time to go again. That’s how it is. It depends how long it is, but that’s easy – it’s science. But we ignore that completely, we just look and think, ‘Oh my god, they look strange’, when they run today again.
“I understand each manager who mentions it from time to time, pretty much always at the 23rd or 24th of December when they realise that it’s coming up, because it’s just not okay. But other people have to decide that.”
Klopp said football over Christmas “would cause a lot of problems on a private basis” in Germany, but he understands it belongs within English football culture.
After winning the Club World Cup, Liverpool have their sights firmly set on turning a commanding lead in the Premier League title race into more silverware.
They headed to Christmas with a 10-point lead over Leicester, and with a game in hand, but Klopp is conscious that what appears a near-formality to the uninitiated is far from that.
Manchester City’s 100- and 98-point hauls in the past two seasons have shown Liverpool what it takes to get across the line in a title battle.
“I think City moved the bar massively, massively. So, the kind of consistency that they showed in the last three years probably is incredible and difficult to do,” Klopp told reporters at a news conference.
“You’re not allowed to lose games. That’s how it is. It’s difficult, obviously, but winning the Premier League should be difficult.”
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