Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says the Premier League “has to change” its fixture scheduling, with Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola adding that players are not protected.
Liverpool and Manchester City played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday after also both having had European fixtures in midweek.
Klopp told BBC Sport: “The boys are on the edge. No team on a Wednesday night should have the 12:30 kick-off on Saturday.
“Sunday – no problem. Not the 12:30 because that is a complete killer. You wake up and play football. This is the recovery phase.
“The Premier League has to change. Sky, BT, you – everyone has to talk to each other.
“You want good football? Give the boys a few hours more rest.”
Managers call for five substitutions return
United beat Everton 3-1 on Saturday but a visibly angry Solskjaer said the short turnaround from their trip to Istanbul meant his side were “set us up to fail”, adding: “It’s an absolute shambles.”
Liverpool won at Italian side Atalanta on Tuesday, while City beat Olympiakos at Etihad Stadium on the same night.
On Sunday, Mohamed Salah scored the opener for the Reds from the penalty spot and Gabriel Jesus scored a brilliant equaliser, but the sides had to settle for a draw after Kevin de Bruyne’s penalty miss.
Liverpool lost right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold to a calf injury in the second half, and the 22-year-old will now not go on international duty with England.
That change was one of two made by Klopp during the match, while Guardiola used one of his three permitted substitutions.
After the game, both managers expressed frustration at a congested fixture schedule in the lead-up to the international break.
“These boys need rest. It’s a difficult time. We want to play, obviously, but I heard Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] yesterday as well and I understand him 100%. We are in the situation quite frequently,” said Klopp.
“I spoke to the Premier League already and spoke to Pep before the game about the five substitutions. Everyone watching is like: ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ But we have to change things and help the players.
“We want to play football, it’s great. But playing Wednesday night and then 12:30 on Saturday is a crime and we have to change that.”
Five substitutions were allowed after football restarted in June following the shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, in August, Premier League clubs voted against continuing the rule.
“I think we are going to fight [for its return],” Guardiola told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“All the other clubs and countries play five substitutions because they understood that the situation is completely unusual in terms of the pandemic.
“No break, no rest and everyone is at home. All the other countries do it, but here it looks like it likes to be special, different.
“That is not good because we don’t protect the players and we should do it.”
However, Aston Villa boss Dean Smith does not agree with Klopp and Guardiola.
Speaking after his side’s 3-0 win over Arsenal, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We don’t have the biggest squad in the world so we have to manage our players.
“I can sympathise with teams in Europe but there’s some big squads out there and I’ve made my feelings known from the off that I thought we were right to stay with the three-subs rule.
“Now we’ve started with it we should certainly continue with it.”
Alexander-Arnold out of England games
Alexander-Arnold has been a constant in the Liverpool side but limped off just after the hour mark on Sunday.
Klopp said the player will miss England’s fixtures against the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland over the next two weeks and will have a scan on Monday to find out the extent of the injury.
Guardiola said: “Trent Alexander-Arnold: international English player, now injured. Here, we believe we are more special. We don’t protect the players, so that is why it is a disaster.”
City striker Jesus, who has scored three goals in three games since returning from injury, added: “I feel good and feel confident.
“That is the challenge for me: keep fit and don’t get injured.
“This season is going to be dangerous for players because [there are] too many games.”