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'It's a crime!' - Klopp defends Solskjaer team selection against Leicester and takes aim at Premier League scheduling

5:08 PM GMT+4 12/05/2021
Jurgen Klopp Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The Liverpool boss believes his Manchester United counterpart had no other option but to make wholesale changes for Tuesday's defeat at Old Trafford

Jurgen Klopp has defended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United team selection for the defeat to Leicester, but the Liverpool boss believes the Premier League could have done more to create a smoother fixture list after the postponement of their sides’ meeting at Old Trafford earlier this month.

Solskjaer’s United went down 2-1 on Tuesday night having made 10 changes to the side which beat Aston Villa on Sunday. The result confirmed Manchester City as Premier League champions and also impacts the race for Champions League qualification with West Ham and Liverpool now facing an uphill battle to catch Leicester and Chelsea.

United are expected to return to near full strength when Liverpool visit Old Trafford on Thursday, but Klopp refused to condemn Solskjaer for the way he has managed his resources.

What has been said?

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Klopp said: “It was the line-up I expected. I knew that he has to make these changes. I said it 500 times, with all the things that happened and the protests at Manchester which caused the situation, to play Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday is a crime. It is.

“It is not the fault of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or the players. So my question to myself was ‘would I have done the same?’ Yes, you have to. You have to.

“We are late in the season. United went to the Europa League final, which means an awful lot of games, and now you get Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday. That’s not possible."

Could the Premier League have done more?

The curiosity of the Premier League’s decision to reschedule the United-Liverpool game, which was called off following fan demonstrations at Old Trafford on May 2, for Thursday night is that United do not have a league fixture this coming weekend.

Klopp believes that had the Premier League moved Liverpool’s fixture at West Brom, which will take place on Sunday, to this midweek, the scenario of United playing three games in the space of five days could have been avoided.

He said: "This weekend is a weekend off for Man Utd. I’m not the guy who does the fixture list, but when we thought about how it could work out when the game got cancelled, there was no Tuesday-Thursday, and we all could have played all the games - if we moved on game, the West Brom game.

“That didn’t happen. The explanation of the Premier League was that no other team should suffer because of the things that happened in Manchester. Well let me say this; that didn’t work out well, because obviously West Ham, Liverpool a little bit [suffered]!”

Klopp added: “If we don’t qualify for the Champions League, it’s not the fault of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or the Premier League, it’s our fault - but in this specific case, I think they could have done it differently. 

“You get more and more used that things barely go the way you want. You just accept it.”

Congratulations to Manchester City

Klopp also used his press conference to offer his praise to newly-crowned champions City.

“Great achievement, congratulations,” he said. “I texted Pep [Guardiola] last night, I already texted Ilkay [Gundogan] obviously. Really well done.

“A really difficult year for the whole football world, and what they achieved so far is exceptional, having won the title in the past, now five in 10 years.

“It’s always like this; when you bring together financial resources and football knowledge then you have a good chance to create something special. That’s obviously the case. City has an incredible squad and the best manager in the world, and that makes it a good recipe, I would say!

“It’s always a joy to play against them because it’s a massive challenge from a football point of view. You can beat them, but you have to be at your absolute top to do so. We could do that from time to time, but this year not. So, well deserved congratulations.”

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