Jurgen Klopp has issued a passionate plea for clubs outside of the Premier League‘s top six to accept the need for a return to the five substitute rule this season.
Through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs in the English top flight were permitted to make five substitutes per game to relieve the pressure on squads in a shorter season.
But though games are being postponed every round of fixtures throughout the winter due to players and staff testing positive, the Premier League has resisted a return for the rule.
While the 20 clubs held a meeting last week to discuss how to combat the ongoing threat of absences during the busiest stage of the campaign, no real resolution was made.
And speaking ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Leicester on Tuesday, Klopp outlined exactly why he feels the five substitute rule must return.
Here is everything the Reds manager said on the subject…
Why it’s important…
“We have to put competition aside and don’t say ‘OK, City has 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 Premier League and they can still cause us problems.
“But if you talk about the quality, without playing, just the transfer market and all these kinds of things, then that’s the case.
“The problem is, obviously, this intensity. For a top-class footballer in England, it’s definitely on the edge.
“A top-class player in England plays 38 Premier League games, [then] cup games, two cup competitions, so even when we don’t go to the final, let’s just put on another five. It’s 43.
“Then they have international games, because pretty much all of them play for their national teams – eight, nine, 10 games a year. So you can count that.
“Plus Champions League games, the further you go, the more games it is. So you come pretty quickly in an area with more than 50 games.
“My first season here, I think the [Europa League] final was the 64th game.
“So yes, now, we have squads and can swap, but there are some key players who only come out when they are injured pretty much, so that’s how it is.”
Why other clubs voted against it…
“But now the decision about it is made – we realised again in the manager’s meeting it was like that – by 14 clubs.
“I think you need 14 votes to change it, and there’s something wrong.
“As an example, Burnley, I’m not sure how many of their players play international football. When our players have three games, they have no game.
“They’re playing 38 Premier League games, cup games another three, four, so that makes it 42.
“So we talk about an issue which some clubs and some players definitely have, but it’s decided by other teams.
“And because we make kind of a competition of it, it’s like ‘no, they are better than us!’.
“That’s a real problem, I have to say.
“It’s the right decision, especially in this moment, because you bring players back, after Covid infection or after injury, and because of the games you have to play they have to play immediately.
“Then they go out again, because you cannot get them off after 60 minutes because you have to change others. That’s a real problem.”
Why he doesn’t expect it to be brought in…
“So this wonderful game is so wonderful because usually the players on the pitch are in good shape, are well-trained, have recovered well and go for it.
“That’s why we love the game.
“But now the situation is clear, if we don’t do that it’s much more difficult.
“The best league in the world, and the most intense league in the world, is the only league in Europe – and maybe the world, I don’t know – still with three subs. And that’s not right.
“We came through until now, but I still think we have to talk about it, we should change it.
“But it’s for the Premier League, which as Thomas [Tuchel] said he would like to make this decision by himself, but he can’t, because you need a vote and this vote is other clubs which have other problems, different problems, say ‘no, we don’t want to have five subs’.
“So I don’t see a real chance to change it, to be honest.”