Jurgen Klopp's dig at Burnley over five substitutions row

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has aimed a dig at Burnley in the row over returning to five substitutions in the Premier League.

By Chris Boden
Monday, 27th December 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 27th December 2021, 4:02 pm
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp

Klopp, Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel, Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick are among those wanting to use two extra substitutions, from the allowed three.

But with 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs required to vote in favour, Klopp doesn't expect the change to happen.

Squads have been tested to the limit by the Festive schedule and Covid outbreak, with a number of Premier League games postponed.

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And, asked if he agreed with Tuchel's standpoint over a return to five substitutions, Klopp said: "Yes. So we have to put the competition aside and don’t say, “Well [Manchester] City have better subs than Southampton, we have better subs than Burnley” or whatever.

"Yes, that’s probably true – whatever that means exactly, because it’s still the Premier League and they can still cause us problems and all these kinds of things. But if you talk about the quality without playing, just transfer market and all these kinds of things, then yes that is the case.

"The problem is, this intensity for top-class football in England is definitely at the edge. So it means a top-class player in England plays 38 games in the Premier League, two cup competitions, so even if you don’t go to the final lets add on another five, so 43 games.

"They have international games with the national teams, because pretty much all of them play for their national teams, so eight or nine, maybe 10 games a year – so you can count that. Plus Champions League, the further you go the more games it is, so pretty quickly you’re at an area of more than 50 games – or higher. My first season here, the [Europa League] final was the 64th game.

"Yes, we have squads and can swap, but there are some key players that only get out when they are injured pretty much, so that’s how it is. But now the decision about it [extra subs] is made, and we realised in the manager’s meeting it was like that. The decision is made by 14 clubs, you need 14 votes to change it. And there is something wrong.

"As an example, Burnley, I’m not sure how many players of them play international football. When our players have three games, they have no games. So they play 38 Premier League games, cup games – another two, three, four – so that makes it 42.

"So we’re talking about an issue that some clubs definitely have, some players definitely have, but it’s decided by other teams. And because we’ve made kind of a competition of it, other teams are like, “Well no, they are better than us” and stuff like this. And that’s a real problem, I have to say.

"It’s a real problem because it’s the right decision [to reintroduce five subs], especially in this moment, because you bring players back after a Covid infection or after an injury and because of the amount of games you have to play, they have to play immediately.

"So this wonderful game is so wonderful because usually the players on the pitch are in good shape, are well trained, are well recovered and go for it. And that’s why we love the game. And now the situation is clear, if we don’t do that, it’s now much more difficult.

"And again, one example of it, the best league in the world, the most intense league in the world, is the only league in Europe – maybe the world, I don’t know – with still three subs. And that’s not right. It’s not.

"But we came through until here, that’s how it is. I still think we have to talk about it. We should change it, but it’s for the Premier League. Richard Masters said he would like to make this decision himself but he can’t because you need a vote and other clubs, with different problems, say, “No we don’t want to have five subs” and so I don’t see a real chance to change it, to be honest."

Burnley boss Sean Dyche hasn't spoken recently on the subject, but, while feeling five subs gives an advantage to the elite clubs, also sympathises with their plight.

He said this time last year: “For the big clubs who play lots of games, of course it’s useful.

”It gives them the ability to use players who are fresher and more ready, but of course it does favour the big clubs because if you are one of the superpowers they probably carry 20-plus international footballers, so they can use them more regularly.

”It will, in my opinion, help them over a season.

“For smaller clubs like ourselves, it’s detrimental slightly as if teams opposite us have 20-plus players who they can use, then it’s a positive for them and not so useful for us.

”As we’ve seen, we carry a small squad, we can’t afford the same quality as the big teams, and if you get injuries it becomes very difficult.

”I’d totally understand if I was on the other side of the fence.

”If I was the manager of one of the superpower clubs, of course I’d want five subs. Of course.

”If they are having a successful season, they play a lot more games, they play internationals more.

”I’m just speaking as a Burnley manager, our club with our resources.

”We run a tight squad and if we get the injuries – with all due respect to our young players, we can’t always throw five players on the pitch.

”If you’re throwing on five internationals, it’s fair to say it will benefit them.”