Jürgen Klopp has claimed next summer’s European Championship could be decimated by injuries if a compressed match schedule is not addressed after Trent Alexander-Arnold was injured during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
The full-back will miss England’s upcoming internationals with a suspected muscle problem, having limped off in the second half of a match in which Gabriel Jesus’s goal cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s penalty for Liverpool. Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne missed a penalty just before half-time.
The Liverpool manager pointed to how the strain of an unusually hectic fixture list caused by the coronavirus pandemic may have a knock-on effect on the rearranged Euro 2020.
“Hopefully we can play the Euros next summer but if we continue like this let’s see which players can be part of that,” he said. “Trent will be out for England. What [injury] he has we don’t know but he cannot play for England and he is not the first and will not be the last player that Gareth [Southgate, the manager] will miss. He’ll have a scan, then we will see.”
Klopp also voiced support for Ole Gunnar Solskjær following the Manchester United manager’s criticism of a schedule that took his side to Everton for Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off having played at Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday night.
“We played [last month] after the international break at 12.30 on Saturday at Everton. Some of my players were coming back from Peru,” Klopp said. “These kind of things should not happen.
“I spoke about two weeks ago – in a meeting with the person responsible at the Premier League who organised the fixtures. We cannot change it [I was told]. It is not about Manchester United, Liverpool and City.
“Usually in the season we all have a [hectic] November and December. This year the October is like a December, the November is like a November and the December is still like a December. The 12.30 game – that is a killer. If the Tuesday [Champions League playing] teams are in contention for the Saturday 12.30 that is ok. But the Wednesday teams should not be.”
Klopp urged broadcasters to resolve the problem. “Sky, BT, the Premier League – they have to talk,” he said. The manager also reiterated his opinion that the five-substitute rule should be reintroduced. Premier League managers were permitted to make a maximum of five substitutions last season when football restarted after lockdown.
“It is not an advantage [for bigger clubs] – it is a necessity,” he said. “In all other countries it happens.”
The view was supported by Pep Guardiola. “Today the right-back for the national team of England is injured. Tomorrow it will be another player. It is too much,” the Manchester City manager said. “It is so demanding for the players – [and is] the same for all teams. I don’t understand how the Premier League understands [addresses] the situation.”
Guardiola is pessimistic about the prospect of changes being made. “I remember when I was a young player and I read the news from England – Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger complaining the same thing about what Solskjær is saying,” he said. “I don’t have any optimistic solution.
“They [broadcasters] cannot come together because each one looks for himself and his business. My business is to protect my players. LeBron James won the NBA and now he is going on holiday for two months, three months. Our guys have eight days because of BT and Sky.”
While stressing he did not have a clear view of the incident, Klopp was also the latest manager to complain about the handball law. Liverpool’s Joe Gomez conceded a penalty when De Bruyne fired a cross at him from close range.
“Handball, offside, all these things – I don’t know why we get asked and not the rule-makers who can make a difference – and they seem the only people who think the rule is exactly right. I can’t wait for the first time a player scores a goal with the armpit,” he said.