Klopp defends owners, blasts new-look UCL

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said it was “great” the Super League didn’t happen as he defended the club’s owners over the shelved plans, but also launched a stinging attack on the new-look format of the Champions League.

Klopp, speaking ahead of Liverpool’s key Premier League match against Newcastle on Saturday, was frustrated at the events of the last week where his club went from declaring their intention to participate in the breakaway Super League, only to see plans scrapped 48 hours after their controversial unveiling.

In a week where Liverpool’s ownership has come under heavy criticism from the fans, Klopp hoped the bond between the team and the supporters might get “stronger” off the back of a tough week.

“Our owners are not bad people — they just made a bad decision but let’s carry on,” he said.

Liverpool drew 1-1 at Leeds on Monday and Klopp was frustrated at the abuse his team were subjected to — he said they were “thrown” into the situation — but he has called for calm with the Super League plans shelved. He said the public apology from owner John W. Henry was “personal enough,” but warned the damage caused by the proposed Super League will not merely heal overnight amid criticism from Liverpool supporters.

“I know the owners, I have known them six years, I know there are some moments when they might not have made right decision, this time for sure,” Klopp said. “But it doesn’t change things for me, I prefer to deal with problems with people I know than changing them. I know it’s normal that people will say ‘how can we carry on’ but that needs longer time, you cannot sort that in a week.”

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Klopp said the most positive aspect to come out of the Super League fiasco was “it didn’t happen” and discussions are not “over yet”, but he did expect the concept to be shelved. He said it would have been “really bad” had the Super League become reality.

“Nothing will happen again in the future with these [six breakaway] teams, they won’t come around the corner next week again and try to do something — they all learnt their lesson,” Klopp said.

But Klopp has long questioned the logic in packing further matches into a season and he criticised the structure of the new-look Champions League with football clubs already operating “on the edge” of maximum capacity.

He said: “We have to make sure there’s no harm from [the Super League], no different atmosphere in the club. Let’s go back to the beautiful game it always was.

“I am not naive — I have no problem with change, and while the Super League is away, in the same moment the new Champions League is out there.

“Who read this concept properly and says ‘oh that’s perfect!’ And who doesn’t know it’s not about money? It’s a joke.”

Klopp then referred to the Nations League and the Club World Championship, and added: “this kind of things happen constantly.”

He added: “We’ve spoken about this before, no one listens to the managers or players. The football structure at the moment is not prepared for more games. People at high levels do not understand [this].”