Jurgen Klopp has been outspoken in his criticism of Liverpool’s hectic schedule.
The Reds boss took aim at broadcasters yet again after their draw with Brighton at the weekend, clashing with BT Sport’s Des Kelly in a tense post-match interview.
Whilst they have faced a tough task with the Champions League group stage crammed into a shorter season, the Reds are set to play a maximum of 60 matches this season.
That would be nine less than the number played by Chelsea during the 2012/13 campaign.
They have so far played an average of a game every 5.4 days – something far from unusual with teams in European competition regularly averaging a game less than every five days in the past.
And whilst the worst case scenario could see the Reds drop below that number, Neville’s table illustrated this is far from a unique case as he questioned Klopp and his complaints.
“He got done on BT Sport but on some things [I agree with Klopp],” the former Manchester United defender said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
“The 12:30 kick off and 12pm kick off I don’t know why, I can see why some fans may not understand why there is a difference between 12 and 3pm in terms of recovery, but I personally hated the 12pm kickoff particularly after playing Champions League midweek.
“It felt like your legs were never the same, it felt like you were eating pasta at 9am, I agree with it, no idea if it is psychological or a body clock thing, it does not feel the same for a player, we understood why you had to do it, we always played at 12 because we had to hit the Asia market where it is 7pm.
“I have some sympathy with him here, because you cannot deny it.
“But Sir Alex Ferguson wanted that advantage. He wanted the ability to recover more and play different times so that it sorted Manchester United. That is what Klopp wants now.
“Does he have a point in the wider context? I don’t think it is an exceptional season, it is only more exceptional because the players have had more rest than they have ever had before.
“They had three months of Covid, they then had nine matches where even though they had won the league Klopp played all his best players, they then had five weeks off before the start of the season.
“In any season, I only got three or four weeks in World Cup and Euros year, so there is more rest this year than in any other year. I don’t get why it is a unique season. I get that the fans aren’t there and the feeling isn’t there for the players.
“I remember the third of the season of the 2002-03 season we played at 11am, at 11:30 midday, we played so many games in that slot, as did Liverpool in 2006-07, this is not a new problem, this is a 18-year old problem.
“Liverpool have played two games in that slot. The max Liverpool can play in that slot is six, so I don’t think Jurgen Klopp can have a major gripe about being disadvantaged, if you are successful and you are Liverpool or Manchester United, they want to watch you in Asia and the Premier League will pay for that and the foreign broadcasters will pay for that.
“Volume of games? It is days per game, Liverpool are playing a game every 5.4 games, Liverpool are not disadvantaged looking at history, the players they have are being asked to play every 5.4 games.”
Despite Neville’s evidence, former Reds defender Jamie Carragher insisted Klopp’s complaints are fully justified and not fuelled by a selfish motive.
“I think you [Neville] are the only person in this country who said it is not an exceptional season,’ Carragher said.
“You are talking as if this is just completely normal. Everyone has said all the time, you have players going down with Covid. It is exceptional. you cannot deny it is not different as a season.
“You talk about the players being off for three months, no one knew when the season was starting, the players were training at home.
“This argument started with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Istanbul and Everton. When he said the authorities want us to fail, I said no I don’t agree, because everyone wants Liverpool and Manchester United on.
“But Klopp argued for Solskjaer, I think the manager of Liverpool is sincere in not thinking just about Liverpool, I believe that. Why come out and back Solskjaer? He backed him.”