Alexis Mac Allister has opened up about the strain of the schedule on players, admitting he struggled to keep his eyes open during a team meeting ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Manchester City.
The clash between Man City and Liverpool marked the resumption of the Premier League season on Saturday, with Trent Alexander-Arnold securing a draw for Jurgen Klopp’s side after Erling Haaland opened the scoring.
With the match kicking off at 12:30pm, the teams had limited time to prepare following the recent international break with some players facing long flights back to England after representing their national teams.
Mac Allister played all 90 minutes of Argentina’s World Cup qualifier victory over Brazil at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana on Wednesday, with the match kicking off at 12:30am UK time.
The 24-year-old then started for Liverpool at the Etihad on Saturday before being replaced with five minutes remaining by Wataru Endo, who himself played 83 minutes of Japan’s win over Syria in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
Speaking after the match to Liverpool’s in-house station LFC TV, Mac Allister admitted it was tough to play after returning from international duty.
He said: “Honestly, it’s so hard to play like this. [On Friday] we were in a meeting talking about Man City and the way we wanted to play and I couldn’t keep my eyes open!
“It’s very tough, jet-lag, long trip, but it is what it is. We like playing football, this is what we want. We want to win and that’s why we did our best.”
Mac Allister’s comments come after Man City manager Pep Guardiola revealed his team were limited to less than 30 minutes on the training pitch to prepare to face Liverpool.
He said: “The day before this game, we did 10-15 minutes with the ball and 10 minutes defensively. It’s the same for Jurgen, I’m pretty sure.”
Guardiola added that on-field preparation for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with RB Leipzig will be reduced to just 10 minutes in total, with injury concerns forcing him to manage his players carefully.
“Before Tuesday it will be 10 minutes on the pitch,” he said. “We cannot train. If we train, we don’t have players for the next game. We don’t have them.”
Speaking after Liverpool’s victory over Brentford in the last match prior to the international break, Klopp expressed his disgust that he would have to face Man City in the first Premier League match back.
“We can train once before Manchester City,” he said. “How can you put a game like this on Saturday at 12:30pm?
“Honestly, the people making these decisions, they cannot feel football, it is just not possible. And it is the moment where the world pays the most to see a football game.”