Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp are in agreement over the congested fixture schedule.
Liverpool’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa was scheduled to be played the week commencing December 16 but the Reds will be in Qatar for the Club World Cup.
Klopp threatened to quit the competition if they were not given a favourable alternative slot – which is looking increasingly like January 7 or 8, the scheduled dates for the first leg of the semi-finals – but he has ruled out leaving players behind in England to fulfil the fixture while they are in Doha.
When Manchester United where involved in the 2000 World Team Championship (the forerunner of the Club World Cup), they pulled out of the FA Cup to aid their fixture congestion, but withdrawing midway through a competition would be equally as controversial.
“If I create headlines for a day then people say ‘Why is he moaning? He earns so much money’. That’s what I don’t like,” said Klopp, whose side, coincidentally, travel to Villa Park on Saturday as they look to maintain their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
“It is obvious it is too much. Absolutely obvious. Everyone involved in the game will tell you that. Let’s have a look how they deal with it.
“Premier League: what a competition, sensationally cool. Then Carabao Cup: nice competition, what a wonderful game we had on Wednesday. But then in January, after a very busy schedule in December, there is two (legged) semi-finals.
“It is an easy decision for me to say ‘OK, if you keep that competition why have two semi-finals?’ That is the difference to other countries. We are the only country where no-one wants to touch it.
“The FA wants to touch the League Cup, the Football League wants to touch the FA Cup but no-one wants to talk about it.”
And Guardiola agrees that something needs to be done: “I completely agree. We need less fixtures, more competitions, more recovery, we play 27, 28 [games] in winter time. It’s a debate from a long time ago. I completely with Jurgen on these kind of statements about ‘too much’.
“I prioritise – I didn’t play Ilkay, Kevin, Silva last game. Jurgen has done the same, Arsenal have done the same. It’s too much, it’s too much.”
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