Gary Neville says that Jurgen Klopp is just looking for an ‘advantage’ with his moans about the fixture list.
The former Manchester United defender spoke at length on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports about Klopp and his complaints about Saturday lunchtime kick-offs.
“I don’t think Jurgen Klopp’s got a point around fatigue, around the length of time of pre-season or about the Saturday kick-offs.
“My view is that when you become a winning manager, and this is where Sir Alex got to and why they called him a whinging so and so for many years, the best managers they just want to win.
“The biggest risk to Klopp winning the league again this season is another big injury or two. So, he wants to try and gain that advantage to put some psychological thing into people’s minds. Sir Alex Ferguson did it for 15 or 16 years.”
“Klopp has been the best manager in interviews for the last few years, he’s been the best manager on the pitch, he’s connected with the fans better than anybody else, his style of football is fantastic, but on Saturday he got done in an interview, and that’s very rare.
“He didn’t get his story right, he hasn’t got his evidence to back him up either in games played or in the Saturday kick-off slots. He just lost this particular one having been brilliant in all his other interviews that he’s done.
“He’s trying to gain an advantage to get results, that’s it.
“I played for a manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and there’s hundreds of these quotes.”
“Every single season he wanted that advantage. He wanted the ability to recover more, to play at different times, so it suited Manchester United, and that’s what Klopp wants now.
“What Klopp has done at Liverpool over the last three years is unbelievable, but his squad this season is just wilting a little bit under the fact they’ve had that three years.
“There might be an element of Covid and sport science, but the rest time has been there. The games are not coming thicker and faster than any other season. The Saturday kick-offs are not coming thicker and faster than any other season so the exceptional points Klopp is making haven’t happened.
“I don’t think it’s an exceptional season.
“It’s exceptional in that the players have had more rest than they’ve ever had before.
“They had three months of rest from March until June, they then played nine matches, where Klopp played all his best players even when they’d won the league, and they then had five weeks off up to the Community Shield.
“In any season I ever played in a World Cup or European Championships, I only ever got three or four weeks anyway. There’s more rest this year than in any year in football’s history. I don’t get this idea that it’s a unique season. The fans aren’t in the stadiums, the feeling’s not there for the players.
“I’ve looked at the history of 12pm kick-offs from about 2002, when this fixture became something of a thing where the Premier League decided they were going to try to attack the Asian market. It’s been very successful for the Premier League, and the riches of the Premier League have is down to this ability to play games at 12pm on Saturday and early on Sunday.
“That’s nearly a third of the season they played in 2002/03, a season I played in, we were playing at 11am, 11.30am, 12pm, we played so many games in that slot. Liverpool themselves in 2006/07, Tottenham, Arsenal, this is not a new problem.
“What Klopp is talking about is an 18-year-old problem. Liverpool this season have played two games in that slot, the maximum they can play this season is six. That’s the maximum amount of times you can be in that slot.
“I don’t think Klopp’s got what I would believe to be a major gripe about being disadvantaged against other teams that play in that slot in any other season. If you’re successful and you’re Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, they want to watch you over in Asia and the overseas broadcasters will pay for that. It’s been the same for 18 years.
“I then started to think about the volume of games Liverpool have played, and thinking they have played a lot of games in the last few years, they’ve been successful in the Champions League, gone all the way with City in the league. If you look at the days per game, again through history, at the moment they’re playing every 5.4 days.
“If you look again at the most successful teams who’ve had European campaigns, whether it be the Europa or Champions League, going all the way back to Manchester United in 1998/99, again Liverpool are not disadvantaged. The players Liverpool have got this season, with bigger squads, are being asked to play a game every 5.4 days.
“The maximum Liverpool can play this season, if they go the whole way in every competition, is every 4.5 days.”