Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was left ranting about Premier League scheduling in an on-air row with broadcasters after his side’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Brighton.
The Seagulls equalised in stoppage time as a Pascal Gross penalty, awarded by VAR for Andy Robertson’s challenge on Danny Welbeck, cancelled out Diogo Jota’s opener in the lunchtime kick-off.
Klopp had few issues with that late penalty decision, nor the two Liverpool goals disallowed on review for offside – but took offence to a follow-up question on the spot-kick and then sarcastically congratulated interviewer Des Kelly in relation to the hamstring injury that saw James Milner substituted.
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The Reds boss told BT Sport 1: “I think the two offside, I asked, they said yes, was really close, but we are used to it.
“The penalty, I think the decisions were right.”
Put to him by Kelly that some of the Brighton players did not think it was a penalty, he added: “You try to create again, on my cost, a headline, because that’s how it is.
“If I say it now it was not… the ref whistled it. Don’t look like this, you try, always, all the time. Today I say it was a penalty, you are not happy with that answer, so keep your answers to yourself.”
Kelly then asked Klopp if Milner had a hamstring injury, which sparked a back-and-forth between the pair over scheduling, the transcript of which is as follows:
DK: And James Milner, hamstring was it?
JK: Yeah, congratulations.
DK: What me personally?
JK: But you work for them, yeah. Hamstring, surprise, and they had injuries but ask Chris Wilder how we can avoid that.
DK: Maybe you’re firing at the wrong target? We are broadcasters, we work within the Premier League rules, the Premier League makes the rules, that’s the Premier League clubs, so shouldn’t you be talking to Premier League clubs?
JK: I don’t know how often I have to say it, you picked the 1230, not you personally, but you did it, us on 1230, between now and December and New Year, one more Wednesday…
DK: When you say picked the 1230, the Premier League clubs chose that slot, there’s a reason that slot is there.
JK: These are difficult times.
DK: Of course these are difficult times, the stadiums are empty, the broadcasters are supporting the game.
JK: If you play at 3pm or 5.30pm it’s exactly the same.
DK: Your chief executive should be with the other chief executives having that discussion, if you come down here and just have a go at the broadcasters it doesn’t go anywhere, it’s not going to change anything.
JK: I’ve not had a go at the broadcaster, I just say how it is. After Wednesday, Saturday 12.30 is really dangerous for the players.
DK: But you also said the broadcasters don’t care and that’s the problem – it isn’t the problem.
JK: Why did you pick us against Crystal Palace (at 12.30 on December 19) if you care?
DK: I didn’t pick it, every pick is agreed by the Premier League, every executive around that table.
JK: You always rely on things we agreed in another time, we did.
DK: If it was all about player welfare, why did the Premier League clubs block the five subs?
JK: Because, that’s very interesting now. When we had a talk between managers, a week ago, it was 15-5 if not 16-4 for five subs. Since then nothing happened. Chris Wilder or whoever says constantly that I am selfish. I think all the things he said show that he’s selfish. I was in a similar situation when I worked at Mainz and it was all about staying in the league, but they have three subs and one point if I am right. If you can’t do five subs in a game like this, it’s not for tactical reasons.
Klopp’s comments were not well received by Cambridge chief executive Ian Mather, who criticised the Liverpool manager for complaining while EFL clubs battle similar fixture congestion and financial struggles.
Mather wrote on Twitter: “Perspective please! Premier league clubs moan over kick off times and turnaround between games while lower league clubs still await the promised PL rescue package for starting the season and manage the congested season with far smaller squads.”