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'We need proper breaks' - Liverpool boss Klopp demands football scheduling overhaul

13:42 BST 23/07/2019
Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2018-19
The Reds manager thinks that the increasing pressure on players to perform all year round will cause long-term problems for the game

Jurgen Klopp says stars like Liverpool’s Sadio Mane cannot perform to the best of their abilities due to the ever-increasing strain of the annual football schedule.

Mane, 27, will miss Liverpool’s curtain-raiser with Manchester City in the Community Shield and return to training just a week before the new Premier League season.

He was Senegal’s star man in the Africa Cup of Nations as his side made it all the way to the final – a valued achievement for him, but one which has allowed him precious little time to rest since the end of a season in which Liverpool fought on two fronts to the last day of the campaign.

“We sit here and it sounds like I am having a moan or whatever. It is just the situation, in the long-term, is not acceptable,” Klopp said.

“It looks like nobody can imagine a week without football in the year. When did that happen? A game again, a game again.

“It is difficult, difficult for the boys. Everything will be fine this season. But in the long-term? We have to change it.

“There must be breaks. Come on, let them go. Be brave. Don’t treat every game like it is the last of a decade.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has made similar complaints, worried that the demands of the modern game are ‘killing’ his players even if they are ever enthusiastic to play.

Despite Klopp’s concerns, Liverpool have three more high-profile friendlies organised before the Community Shield on August 4.

Having already played Tranmere, Bradford, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, the Reds face Sporting Lisbon, Napoli and Lyon – with three friendlies in three countries in the space of six days and another against Schalke already having been cancelled.

The physical and mental demands on players seem to be mounting every season and eventually, says Klopp, something has to give.

“Sadio Mane’s season, after he played the [Afcon] final, will be 13 months. A 13-month season, that is how it is,” he said.

“Ask him how much holiday he has had. He’s played pretty much every game for Senegal. He’s played each game for us. Every international break, he is away. Ask him.

“The pressure is everywhere. We need to calm this down. We need proper breaks, then you will get world-class performances. Then you can enjoy these boys in the long-term and it will be easier for the younger ones to come through.

“We have to win pretty much every game. So where is the space for development?

“We have to make sure all together that there is enough space for the boys to recover and then to go again. Like it was in the good old times, by the way.”