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We Have to Stick to Protecting the Players, Says Jurgen Klopp

The manager was unhappy with the match officials’ decisions to “let the game flow” despite heavy challenges by Burnley players.

Liverpool v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

The Premier League’s rule changes recently moved towards having more “free-flowing games” and away from “forensic scrutiny”, but yesterday’s game against Burnley prompted Jurgen Klopp to compare the current state of play to wrestling.

He believed that officials did not do enough to protect his players with a number of excessively forceful challenges by Burnley players posing a threat to the safety of his Liverpool squad.

Speaking to BT Sport, Klopp said, “We always had to be ready for a proper fight and we were. You saw these challenges with [Ashley] Barnes and [Chris] Wood and Virgil [van Dijk] and Joel [Matip].

“I’m not 100 per cent sure if [officials] are going in the right direction with these decisions. It’s like we’re going 10 to 15 years backwards. The rules are like they are, but you cannot defend these situations. That’s how it makes the game really tricky.”

He was also skeptical about the interpretation of the new rules, saying, “The message now is let the game flow, but nobody exactly knows what that means.

“I like decisions that favour the offensive team, that’s fine. But we have to stick to protecting the players. We cannot deny that. If you like that sort of thing, watch wrestling. In a lot of moments, we played a brilliant game without scoring. In all the other moments we had to fight incredibly hard. We won it and nobody got injured.”