Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes the Carabao Cup is in need of an overhaul as the club try to thrash out a solution to their fixture congestion.
Their 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.”
Klopp also felt UEFA’s new Nations League, a competition he has voiced his opposition to in the past, has exacerbated the problem in terms of demands being put on players.
“People say you should have a bigger squad but the game is not made for bigger squads,” he added.
“You cannot make 40-player squads and 20 of them you send away until January and say ‘Now you come in’, but we pay for all of them. That’s not possible, it’s just not how it works.
“At the moment it’s an imbalance between the number of players you have in a squad, the number of games you have to play, and a big gap between the breaks the boys would usually need and what they get.
“If you are an international player and play all the big competitions in the world, then you have two weeks per year off. That’s a fact.
“The situation is clear, there would be a few solutions possible, but there was not one day that FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League, the Football League have to sit at a table and think about the players and not about their wallet.”
18 years old, boyhood fan, local lad.— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) October 31, 2019
Klopp said their talks about a solution had included the possibility of fielding one team in Qatar and another at home in the Carabao Cup.
However, as he has fielded fringe players and a number from the youth team, some of which will most likely travel in an extended squad for two matches in Doha, that is unlikely.
“We discussed it. We have to as there is not too much time to make that decision. But no final decision yet,” he said.
“If we did play while in Qatar it would be two different teams but we cannot leave any players at home for the Carabao Cup.
“We have two games there (in Qatar) in a very busy period. It is not that we can go there with 11 players and say ‘these 11 guys play two games in Qatar and the other guys play back home against Aston Villa’.
“It doesn’t work like that. We will make a decision but not yet.”
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