Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hasn’t been a happy bunny recently.
The rigours of the 2020/21 season appear to have been taking their toll on the Reds squad with injuries mounting on Merseyside at an alarming rate, prompting Klopp to speak his mind.
The German has been vocal about his concerns surrounding the busy fixture schedule brought about by the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect that’s having on players.
Liverpool’s hectic schedule
This culminated in a passionate interview with BT Sport’s Des Kelly after the Brighton draw on Saturday when Liverpool played at 12:30 just three days after a Champions League tie.
It’s a debate that has divided many key figures in football and the opposite sides of the argument couldn’t have been more clearly marked than on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football programme.
While Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher was largely sympathising with Klopp, Manchester United great Gary Neville opined that the 2020/21 season isn’t actually as unique as some people think.
Gary Neville’s eye-opening analysis
Neville provided some fascinating analysis on why Klopp should perhaps temper his protestations, while also happily admitting that he agrees with the former Borussia Dortmund coach to an extent.
You can check out his comments, per the Mirror, down below and also the eye-opening graphic that Neville called upon to show that Liverpool’s 2020/21 schedule is hardly making history.
“He got done on BT Sport but on some things [I agree with Klopp],” Neville remarked.
“The 12:30 kick off and 12pm kick off I don’t know why, I can see why some fans may not understand why there is a difference between 12 and 3pm in terms of recovery, but I personally hated the 12pm kickoff particularly after playing Champions League midweek.
“It felt like your legs were never the same, it felt like you were eating pasta at 9am, I agree with it, no idea if it is psychological or a body clock thing, it does not feel the same for a player, we understood why you had to do it, we always played at 12 because we had to hit the Asia market where it is 7pm.
“I have some sympathy with him here, because you cannot deny it.
“But Sir Alex Ferguson wanted that advantage. He wanted the ability to recover more and play different times so that it suited Manchester United. That is what Klopp wants now.
“Does he have a point in the wider context? I don’t think it is an exceptional season, it is only more exceptional because the players have had more rest than they have ever had before.
“They had three months of Covid, they then had nine matches where even though they had won the league Klopp played all his best players, they then had five weeks off before the start of the season.
“In any season, I only got three or four weeks in World Cup and Euros year, so there is more rest this year than in any other year. I don’t get why it is a unique season. I get that the fans aren’t there and the feeling isn’t there for the players.
“I remember the third of the season of the 2002-03 season we played at 11am, at 11:30 midday, we played so many games in that slot, as did Liverpool in 2006-07, this is not a new problem, this is a 18-year old problem.
“Liverpool have played two games in that slot. The max Liverpool can play in that slot is six, so I don’t think Jurgen Klopp can have a major gripe about being disadvantaged, if you are successful and you are Liverpool or Manchester United, they want to watch you in Asia and the Premier League will pay for that and the foreign broadcasters will pay for that.
“Volume of games? It is days per game, Liverpool are playing a game every 5.4 days, Liverpool are not disadvantaged looking at history, the players they have are being asked to play every 5.4 days.”
Liverpool situation isn’t unique
So, interestingly, Chelsea have had it the worst of any Premier League club since the turn of the century when their 2012/13 campaign saw them averaging a game every 4.1 games.
In fact, you can see that other Liverpool squads have even had it worse than Klopp’s current team, not to mention certain Manchester United cohorts as well as Fulham and Middlesbrough sides.
That’s not to downplay the current situation at Anfield because it’s clear that their injury crisis is no fluke, but perhaps we should all think twice before deeming their 2020/21 season as wholly unique.