Jurgen Klopp fully understands Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reasons for fielding a much-changed team in Manchester United’s defeat to Leicester City.
Liverpool’s Champions League hopes were dealt a blow on Tuesday, with the Foxes running out 2-1 winners at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer made 10 changes in total from the team he started in Sunday’s comeback win over Aston Villa, with only Mason Greenwood – who continued his fine goalscoring form with an eighth in all competitions since March 21 – retaining his place.
The victory moved Leicester onto 66 points, two clear of fourth-placed Chelsea and nine clear of Liverpool, who sit sixth though do have Thursday’s Premier League match with United in hand.
Some sections of Liverpool’s support were infuriated by Solskjaer’s decision to prioritise Thursday’s game against the Reds over Tuesday’s match, yet Klopp does not believe the United boss had much of a choice.
With United’s planned game with Liverpool postponed due to fan protests on May 2, the Premier League rearranged the fixture for May 13, giving United a gruelling task of three games in five days.
“It was the line-up I expected. Not exactly but I knew he had to make these changes. They played Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday,” Klopp, who has not yet won at Old Trafford as a manager, said in Wednesday’s pre-match news conference.
“I’ve said it 500 times, with all the things that happened and the protest in Manchester that lead to that situation, to play Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday is a crime. It is. It’s not the fault of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the players.
“My question was to myself, would I have done the same? Yes, you have to. You have to. We are late in the season. United went to the Europa League final, that means an awful lot of games.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 12, 2021
Klopp also questioned why the Premier League could not have instead played the game this coming Sunday – May 16 – moving Liverpool’s match with West Brom.
“Now you get Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. That’s not possible. But the weekend off is a weekend off for United. They play now Thursday and have the weekend off,” he continued.
“I’m not the guy doing the schedule, the fixture list, but when we thought how it could work out on the day the game got cancelled and we drove home on the bus.
“We made our fixtures and there was no Tuesday, Thursday game. We would have played all the games and moved one West Brom game. But that didn’t happen.
“The explanation from the Premier League was no other team should suffer because of the things that happened in Manchester. That didn’t work out pretty well. Obviously nobody else [suffered] but a little bit West Ham, a little bit Liverpool.
“But if we don’t go to the Champions League and don’t qualify for it, it’s not the fault of Solskjaer because of team selection or the Premier League, it’s our fault.
“But in this specific case, I think you could have done it differently. But you get more and more used to things barely going in your favour or in your direction and just accept it.”
United have avoided defeat in both meetings with Liverpool in all competitions this season (W1 D1).
The last time they faced the Reds as many as three times in a season without losing any was in the treble-winning campaign of 1998-99, though Liverpool have not lost consecutive games against United in all competitions since a run of four between 2014-2016, with the Reds losing 3-2 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in January.
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