‘You don’t want to see Anthony Joshua fighting every other night’: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp launches an attack on ‘senseless’ Nations League
- Jurgen Klopp is not a fan of UEFA’s new brainchild, the Nations League
- Liverpool boss believes there is no room for even more competitive football
- Klopp wants players to get more of a break instead of more competition
Jurgen Klopp was counting the cost of a raft of injuries from the international break last night and again railed against the Nations League, which he likens to having Anthony Joshua fighting every other night.
The Liverpool manager’s preparations for Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield have taken a hit with Sadio Mane’s broken thumb, Naby Keita’s hamstring, a muscle issue for Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk’s rib injury. All returned hurt from national duty.
Keita misses the trip and while Salah and Mane are doubts, Klopp says Van Dijk is now fine. But he remains adamant the addition of extra competition into international football will be to the detriment of his players and their performances.
Jurgen Klopp launched another scathing attack on the UEFA Nations League on Friday
Even if most of his players suffered in Africa Cup of Nations games, it was UEFA’s new Nations League that received the brunt of Klopp’s criticism on Friday.
He said: ‘The things they say about it are exactly what I think: “Proper games, real opponents, it is better than friendlies.” That’s all good but you don’t want to see Anthony Joshua fighting every second night, it’s not possible.
‘Do we want to have opera every night or every two months? I like competition, of course, but at one point someone has to step back and think, “OK, wait, wait, wait. They are players who play.” If they don’t perform I am angry so how can we make sure they perform?’
Klopp will take his unbeaten side to a Huddersfield team sitting 18th in the Premier League. A clean sheet would give Liverpool their best start to a league season in their history. They could not wish for better opponents than old friend David Wagner’s Terriers, who are without a home league goal this season and with only one since the middle of February.
The arrival of goalkeeper Alisson Becker and defensive rock Van Dijk have helped transform Liverpool defensively but Klopp accepts his team are also taking a different approach. His team are in mid-table in the pressing statistics with which he is so often associated.
‘It’s not been a proper plan to sit back a bit, but we did it after being 1-0 or 2-0 up in games. We did sit back a bit to not give space away. It’s a question of maturity. With the number of games we have, it’s not about always chasing a game like crazy, you have to be smart.’
Greater solidity appears to have cost Klopp’s side some of the freewheeling fluency of last season, particularly among his feted front three, but he believes it is a natural consequence of the changes. He said: ‘It’s a normal period of adaptation. You put the focus a bit more on something and immediately you lose a bit of fluency in something else. But we have created enough chances, it’s just that we didn’t score.
‘I am completely fine with that. We have already had good results and scored goals but it’s obvious that we can improve. But we need to keep the stability. What we’ve done defensively so far is credit to the whole team.’
While Klopp hopes to ruin Wagner’s 47th birthday weekend, he hailed his friend’s record.
‘Getting promoted is a miracle,’ he said. ‘Staying in the league is a miracle, and if he stays in the league this year he has a hat-trick of miracles.’
UEFA’s new brainchild has introduced more competitive games in international football
Klopp believes that the increased competition is harmful to players who need rest