Premier League must take note after Jürgen Klopp fear is realized ahead of Liverpool exit

(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Jürgen Klopp has been a vocal critic of the early kick-off on Saturdays -Credit:(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

It is going to be an emotional farewell at Anfield next weekend as Liverpool and the Premier League bids farewell to Jürgen Klopp. The German's nine-year tenure will come to an end after the final day clash with Wolves and there is no doubt he will look back on his time with great fondness.

But there is one thing about English football that Klopp will not miss — 12:30pm kick-offs. His gripe is justified with Liverpool playing more matches (45) in the early slot on Saturdays than any other team.

Only eight of those have ended in defeat but it did not stop Klopp from letting tip at TNT Sports, who regularly screens those lunchtime matches, recently. He believes the broadcaster and the Premier League are responsible for the struggles of English sides in Europe this season.

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After Aston Villa's first-leg defeat to Olympiacos in the Europa Conference League, Klopp said: "Seeing Villa lost last night is interesting. Does that mean no English team in a European final? The Premier League is the best in the world but someone must help the players.

"Years ago we had four English teams in [European] quarter-finals and then we take that and say, 'It's the quality of the Premier League' and let's make more of it but you have to change that approach. People can survive without matchdays from time to time. City, Arsenal, us out in the quarter-finals. And that is not a reflection of quality.

"It's a general problem. They dare Thursday-Sunday, Weds-Sat 12:30pm, it is a crime. I was waiting for Amnesty International to go to them."

While Klopp's suggestion of an intervention may be a little dramatic, his fears have come true after Villa was beaten 2-0 in Greece in its second leg. That means it is just the second time in the German's nine years as Liverpool boss that an English side has not reached the final of a major European competition.

It is quite the record but the demands on players are now greater than ever. Liverpool will end this campaign having played a staggering 58 matches in all competitions, and that arguably should have been more had it progressed in the Europa League.

Other countries have benefited from fixtures being moved before and after European matches but there is no indication the Premier League will follow suit due to the importance of its TV deals. Unfortunately that is taking preference over successes on the continent, and ultimately player welfare.

Villa will hope to bounce back against the Reds on Monday night, needing a win to be sure of its place in next season's Champions League. Unai Emery deserves great credit for that and his side could come up against Liverpool, and likely Arne Slot, in the group stage of the competition.

Slot will hope he is afforded some slightly more favorable treatment than his successor when it comes to scheduling of fixtures, and you would suspect Klopp will still be keeping a close eye.