Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp to stop complaining and accept the sometimes harsh fixture schedule.
The Reds return to action in the Saturday 12.30pm kick-off away at Newcastle. The trip to Tyneside comes following their Champions League semi-final win over Villarreal on Wednesday evening.
Such a turnaround is typically the shortest in the domestic football season. And, when it has landed on Liverpool, Klopp has proved a fierce critic.
He has insisted that player welfare must come first in the minds of broadcasters, who he has said could choose other teams for the early kick-off if they were not playing in Europe in midweek.
Indeed, Klopp is not the only manager to have complained about the issue. But as Liverpool fight City for the Premier League title ahead of a potential Champions League final meeting, the German wants his squad to avoid injuries.
Guardiola told the Daily Mirror of the situation: “Always I sympathise with the concerns of Liverpool.
“How many times have we discussed what’s happened to us and I’ve said ‘I don’t want to talk about that?’. Nothing is going to change. It’s not going to change, because the broadcasters are thinking about what they have to do to get more viewers.
“If I’m not satisfied, I go home and don’t be manager of Manchester City. I go to another league in the Maldives, the Maldives league, and play one game a week and I’m so comfortable under the coconuts.
“It would be so perfect, but it’s not the case. You’re playing at 12.30? I’m sorry Liverpool, but I’m not involved with that.”
Guardiola noted that it is not only Liverpool who have suffered from short turnarounds this season.
Guardiola accepts Klopp fixture issue
The Spaniard referenced his side’s trip to Spain for the Champions League quarter-final second leg with Atletico Madrid. They then played Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final. The Reds had also played on the Wednesday but were at Anfield against Benfica.
“Of course I understand it, but what can I say? We’re not going to solve the problem,” Guardiola added.
“I’ve said many times, Sir Alex Ferguson was the most important icon in the history of English football and he was complaining about it when he was a teenager.
“Nothing is going to change, so don’t ask me. Go to the Premier League, the broadcasters and ask the reason why. We played in Madrid against Atletico and three days later we played at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.
“Chelsea played Tuesday and could have played on Saturday, but they played [against Crystal Palace] on Sunday. Do you think they think about that?
“No, because next Tuesday, Liverpool play against Manchester United [in the Premier League].
“Everyone has their own business to defend. So we adapt. If they say play Saturday, we play Saturday. If they say play Tuesday, we play Tuesday. Thursday? We’re going to play Thursday. Whatever they want, no problem.”
Liverpool, Man City need to be faultless
Despite the complaints from both sides about the fixture schedule, the task remains the same: win all the remaining games.
If both sides continue to do that, they will meet in the Champions League final and City will edge the Premier League title race by a point.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will scoop the FA Cup if they remain faultless.
However, one slip up from City in the title race will let Liverpool in. On the other hand, Liverpool dropping points will make City the firm favourites.