Sam Allardyce insists he isn’t trying to wind up Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp by suggesting he is driving his players too hard, leading to a rash of hamstrong problems at Anfield.
The Sunderland boss, who recently called Klopp a “soft German”, offered his thoughts on the Reds’ current injury crisis which has sidelined 10 first-team players, six of whom have or are recovering from hamstring injuries.
“That is him asking his players to play a high-tempo pressing game from the top end,” Allardyce told radio station talkSPORT.
But he added last night: “I think the headline has upset him. I got asked a question by a friend of mine, Alan Brazil, and I gave an opinion which was perhaps the high-pressing game in all the games that they have had created that little bit more fatigue and that was maybe a cause of why they have picked up so many hamstrings.
“But if Jurgen is listening, I didn’t mean to upset you or criticise your club in any way, I was just giving what I could see as as maybe one of the reasons why we get injuries.
“I am very wary of the amount of work we do in the week now in the hope that our players have enough energy to do the running they need to do in this period of time to try to get a result, and we are all suffering because of it.
“I’ll probably suffer some injuries, no doubt, by the end of next week when we have played three games in a short period of time, but we are trying to manage it.
“I was just trying to say that he hasn’t experience this level of football before and maybe that might be one of the causes.”
Asked if the pair had fallen out, Allardyce replied: “I hope not. I had no intention of trying to wind him up. Alan asked me to talk about Sunderland, he threw the question in at the end and maybe I should have said, ’It’s not for me to answer, it’s for Jurgen’. I don’t know.”
Klopp, who is likely to travel to tonight’s FA Cup tie with Exeter with no senior central defenders, hit back at the Black Cats manager and rejected his claims.
“I am glad for Sam, such an experienced manager, that he has time to think about Liverpool’s problems — I don’t have time to think about this,” he said.
“I knew about the Premier League, the fixtures, the intensity of the football here.
“There is no time for training, only recovery, the game is our only session in the week to be honest. We know about our situation, we know in most of the cases about the reason.
“One injury at the wrong moment is a problem for the whole squad because other players have to play too much but you have to react to this.
“Two weeks ago we never knew we would have a problem with centre-halves.”
Since arriving in mid-October, Klopp has regularly corrected what he sees as misconceptions about his methods —particularly the high-intensity gegenpressing
tactic which he employed with such success at Borussia Dortmund.
“The problem is now people speak about the intensity of my style — I didn’t create a style, how could I? I am not a genius,” he added.
“Maybe the first game against Tottenham was more intensive than the other games and now we make a few sprints more but not 500 more. It is completely normal, average running — football is not all about more, it is more about thinking quicker and being quicker in the right position.
“As long as you are not quick enough in mind then you have to run a little bit more.”
Liverpool’s injury situation shows no signs of improving after playmaker Philippe Coutinho was ruled out until February.
The Brazil international is the latest player to fall victim to a hamstring strain — Dejan Lovren also sustained a similar problem in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final victory at Stoke — and his extended absence is a significant blow to an already threadbare squad.
Klopp is likely to face Exeter with no senior centre-back with Kolo Toure’s issues with cramp expected to keep him on the sidelines alongside Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel.
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