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Jurgen Klopp's merry hell over Christmas fixtures

Published 14/10/2016

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is annoyed at festive fixture changes.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is annoyed at festive fixture changes.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has voiced his frustration at changes to the fixture schedule which he believes have put unnecessary demands on his side.

The German may have been named September's manager of the month but his mood changed quickly after learning of his side's fixture changes over the Christmas period. The home match against Manchester City has been moved back to a 5.30pm kick-off on New Year's Eve ahead of a trip to Sunderland at 3pm on January 2, leaving them less than 48 hours between the two.

"Now I have seen the fixtures and I am not too happy," said Klopp.

"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.

"Our job is to do everything we can to win games. I understand tradition - I would never say Boxing Day is not a good idea as I love it and I have absolutely no problem (playing then).

"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?"

Klopp is concerned the lack of time between the two matches leaves his side little time for recovery and he is already pre-empting the questions which he expects to field in two months' time.

In the past the German's training methods have been criticised by former Wales assistant manager Raymond Verheijen, who is often outspoken about fitness issues in Premier League clubs.

Klopp referenced the Dutchman in his press conference ahead of Monday's trip to Manchester United.

"Forty-eight hours between two games - how does this work?" he added.

"And then you (media) will sit there and say 'You didn't perform too well, how did this happen?' or 'Injuries. Oh?' and then this Dutch guy (Verheijen) says 'The training is not too good'.

"How do you prepare a team for this. Do you say 'only 50 per cent against City because we have Sunderland on Monday'.

"It doesn't sound like it is right. Everyone is asking 'Why England is not too successful in big tournaments?'

"Ask what other big countries are doing at this time - they have their legs on the sofa and are watching English football."

Within minutes of the press conference finishing Verheijen had already responded.

"Liverpool manager Klopp caused 20 hamstring injuries in 10 months but keeps blaming external factors for injuries," he wrote on Twitter.

Verheijen later added: "The press conference by Liverpool coach Klopp is a great lesson for all coaches. Never let 'a Dutch guy' or anyone else get under your skin."

The fuss over fixtures overshadowed the build-up to one of the most anticipated matches of the year with Jose Mourinho heading to Anfield as United manager for the first time.

Klopp recognises the significance of the match against England's two most successful clubs.

"My first Premier League game against United was a good game from my side, we could have won this game but we didn't because Wayne Rooney scored," he added.

"Then we had a nice opportunity to play them for the first time in this unbelievably long history between the clubs in Europe (Europa League) and that was a nice challenge.

"The more you play for in these games and the more interest there is, the more difficult they are but the more excited people are.

"It will never, for as long as I live, just be a normal game.

"We should use this opportunity on the pitch because all the nice stories surrounding this game were written on the pitch and in the stadium.

"You face the biggest opponents and play football against them - that is the kind of battle we have and we should show who is the best in the moment."

Press Association

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