London: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hit out at the congested Christmas and New Year fixture schedule, which he believes will hamper the Merseyside club.
The Reds' match against Manchester City has been moved back to a 5:30 pm kick-off on New Year's Eve, leaving Liverpool with less than 48 hours before their next match, away to Sunderland at 3:00 pm on 2 January.
"Now I have seen the fixtures and I am not too happy," said Klopp on Friday. "We have less than 48 hours between our game against Man City on 31 December and in Sunderland on 2 January. Forty-eight hours is an interesting idea, but less than 48 hours I cannot believe."
"I learn more and more about this league and maybe I have to ask someone if we can ask if there will be another time for us at Sunderland. Our job is to do everything we can to win games. I understand tradition — I would never say Boxing Day is not a good idea as I love it and I have absolutely no problem (playing then). But having a match day with two days between, there should be another possibility. I don't know why we play Monday. Is 2 January a special day in England?" he asked.
English football's traditionally busy Christmas and New Year fixture schedule has long been a source of bewilderment to outsiders, with many arguing that the lack of a winter break common to many European leagues, including Germany's Bundesliga, helps explain why England have not won a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup.
Klopp, speaking ahead of Liverpool's match against arch-rivals Manchester United on Monday, added, "Forty-eight hours between two games — how does this work?" he added. "How do you prepare a team for this. Do you say, 'Only 50 percent against City because we have Sunderland on Monday'?"
"It doesn't sound like it is right. Everyone is asking, 'Why England is not too successful in big tournaments?' Ask what other big countries are doing at this time — they have their legs on the sofa and are watching English football." Klopp said.
Monday's match at Anfield will be the first time that Jose Mourinho has faced Liverpool as the manager of Manchester United. Klopp said he understood the importance of any clash between English football's two most successful clubs.
"My first Premier League game against United was a good game from my side, we could have won this game, but we didn't because Wayne Rooney scored," he added. "Then we had a nice opportunity to play them for the first time in this unbelievably long history between the clubs in Europe (Europa League) and that was a nice challenge. The more you play for in these games and the more interest there is, the more difficult they are but the more excited people are. It will never, for as long as I live, just be a normal game," he insisted.