Jurgen Klopp is copying a trick straight out of the Sir Alex Ferguson handbook to try and hand Liverpool an advantage in the title race.
That’s the verdict of former Manchester United man Gary Neville.
Anfield boss Klopp has been vocal about the lack of turnaround his team have been afforded.
The German’s complaints reached tipping point on Saturday when he was involved in a heated post-match interview with BT Sport.
Manchester United secured a dramatic comeback victory at Southampton on Sunday, largely thanks to Edinson Cavani’s two goals off the bench.
Bruno Fernandes’ goal set Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on course to battle back from 2-0 down at St Mary’s, giving United a third successive Premier League win.
Klopp argued that his side were at a disadvantage by having to play the early Saturday kick-off having played in Europe just three days prior.
He also suggested injuries to some of his key players were a direct result of the shoehorning of matches in what is already a congested season due to the late, pandemic-enforced start.
But Neville, speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, believes that the tactic employed by Klopp is one Ferguson was familiar with.
Neville said: “I don’t think Jurgen Klopp’s got a point around fatigue, around the length of time of pre-season or about the Saturday kick-offs.
🤔 @GNev2 has questioned Jurgen Klopp’s gripes about fatigue and kick-off times, claiming it’s all about gaining a psychological edge, ala Sir Alex Ferguson.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 1, 2020
“My view is that when you become a winning manager, and this is where Sir Alex got to and why they called him a whinging so-and-so for many years, the best managers they just want to win.
“The biggest risk to Klopp winning the league again this season is another big injury or two.
“So, he wants to try and gain that advantage to put some psychological thing into people’s minds. Sir Alex Ferguson did it for 15 or 16 years.
“He’s trying to gain an advantage to get results, that’s it.
“I played for a manager in Sir Alex Ferguson. Every single season he wanted that advantage. He wanted the ability to recover more, to play at different times, so it suited Manchester United, and that’s what Klopp wants now.”
Neville then reeled off stats about how Liverpool, even if they go deep into all competitions, will still have plenty of time between games compared to teams from seasons gone by.
And he pointed to the example of a past United team playing 12 games in the Saturday lunchtime slot – something that has been capped at six for current sides.
He added: “That’s nearly a third of the season they played in 2002/03, a season I played in, we were playing at 11am, 11.30am, 12pm, we played so many games in that slot. Liverpool themselves in 2006/07, Tottenham, Arsenal, this is not a new problem.
“What Klopp is talking about is an 18-year-old problem.
“Liverpool this season have played two games in that slot, the maximum they can play this season is six. That’s the maximum amount of times you can be in that slot.”
He added: “In terms of the volume of games Liverpool have played, they have played a lot of games in the last few years, they’ve been successful in the Champions League, gone all the way with City in the league.
“If you look at the days per game, again through history, at the moment they’re playing every 5.4 days.
“If you look again at the most successful teams who’ve had European campaigns, whether it be the Europa or Champions League, going all the way back to Manchester United in 1998/99, again Liverpool are not disadvantaged.
“The players Liverpool have got this season, with bigger squads, are being asked to play a game every 5.4 days.
“The maximum Liverpool can play this season, if they go the whole way in every competition, is every 4.5 days.”