Having cultivated an image as an all-smiling, all-laughing purveyor of heavy metal football who excitedly embraces his players after games, it is somewhat jarring when Jurgen Klopp gets angry in interviews.
The imposing and head-strong German coach has butted heads with television reporters in the course of the2020-21season, but for what reason?
Goal takes a look at why Klopp is so angry and why he is pinning the blame for his ire on the broadcast media.
Klopp’s frustration with Liverpool’s fixture schedule stems from the belief thatthey are playing too many games in quick succession.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss feelsit is endangering the health of his players and leading to injuries, which in turn affects the on-field fortunes of his team.
The issue of fixture congestion particularly intensified for Klopp inOctober and November, with the Reds playing 12 games across the two months, with many fixtures coming at intervals of three and four days.
Dotted in between those games were a number of international breaks – coming in September, October and November – so a number of Liverpool players ended up with a lot of minutes in their legs.
Notably, key players such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Thiago, Naby Keitaand James Milner joined Virgil van Dijk and Alisson on the injury table during those two months.
While complaints about fixture congestion have been common gripe among managers of the top Premier League clubs for years, it is fair to say that the disruption to the calendar by the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated issues.
The Premier League initiated ‘Project Restart’ over the summer of 2020 in order to conclude the 2019-20 campaign, but it meant that the players did not have much of a break or, indeed, a pre-season ahead of 2020-21.
The double-edged swordof success is that Liverpool, along with a handful of others, are competing on four different fronts – league, two domestic cups and Europe -at the start of the season, so they find themselves playing more games than the majority in the Premier League.
Klopp is not happy with television broadcastersand has even gone as far as blaming them for injuries suffered by his players.
The reason he has hit out at broadcastersis because of the fact that his team have been pencilled in for a number of 12:30pm GMT kick-offs on Saturdays after playing in the Champions League or another competition on a Wednesday evening. According to Klopp, this does not leave enough time for players to adequately recover.
In November, during a post-match interview with BT Sport‘s Des Kelly after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Brighton, for example, Klopp sarcastically congratulated the broadcaster after being asked about James Milner, who sustained a hamstring injury in the game.
“Yeah, congratulations!” he jibed at the startled interviewer.”Hamstring. Surprise.”
When it was suggested by Kelly that Klopp’s anger was misdirected, the German quickly countered: “I don’t know how often I have to say it,you picked Liverpool for the 12:30pm kick-off. You. Not you personally, but you (broadcaster)did it.”
He added: “I’m not having a go at the broadcaster, I just say how it is: Saturday 12:30pm kick-off after Wednesday is really, really dangerous for the players.”
While Klopp is particularly irked by the role played by broadcasters, it must be said that they are not the only ones who have been on the receiving endof his tongue-lashings.
Indeed, at the end of October he namechecked Premier League CEO Richard Masters in an animated complaint about the quandary of the Wednesday evening-Saturday afternoon scheduling.
“I think everybody would agree that if you play Tuesday night, you can play the Saturday 12:30pm game, but somehow the Premier League never realises that,” the Reds boss toldBT Sport. “They always put in the Wednesday night game, like last Saturday, Man City had to play this game 12:30pm on Saturday – I can’t believe it.
“We are obviously not friends, we play against each other and fight against each other, but how is that possible? Maybe I’m too dumb. Premier League CEO Richard Masters and all the others have all said it before: ‘Come on, that’s how it is.’ They just aren’t bothered. I don’t understand why.”
Then, at the beginning of November he slammed the Premier League again, this timefor “a lack of leadership” over the fact that the number of permitted substitutes was reduced from five to three again.
He has aimed a number of digs at Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder since then, calling him “selfish”due to the fact that the Blades boss was in favour of the reduction.
Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has suggested that Klopp is emulating Sir Alex Ferguson by using complaints as a cerebral weapon, arguing that the volume of games for successful teams is not a new phenomenon.
“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,” Neville told Sky Sports when asked about the German’s attacks on broadcasters.
Some observersmay, like Neville, find the way in which Klopp iscampaigning a source of bemusement, but he is certainly backed by his own players, with Andy Robertson suggesting that “a little bit more help” is needed from somewhere.
“I just believe we should be trying to help the players,” the Scotland captain told reporters at the end of November.”I don’t know the exact percentage or the exact number but a lot more muscle injuries have happened this season. It seems every game I watch on telly or every game I’m involved in, somebody is going off injured with something.
“I think the Premier League is the best league in the world but you want your best players on there and you want all squads to have their best team available and being able to compete for different things.
“We’re maybe not seeing that as much just now because players are unfortunately picking up muscle injuries.
Source : goal.com