Pep Guardiola just said what Jürgen Klopp knew for years as Liverpool boss justified again

Man City manager Pep Guardiola.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola. -Credit:Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It was a week to forget for the Premier League clubs — Aston Villa aside — in Europe. First up, Manchester City and Arsenal exited the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively, before Liverpool and West Ham left the Europa League thanks to Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen.

Almost as soon as they had completed 120 minutes and penalties against Real Madrid, Manchester City was back in action again. This time, it was at Wembley to take on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals, where a single goal from Bernardo Silva was sufficient to secure the victory.

But that was not the main story that emerged from a game where Manchester City was always likely to win. Instead, a rant that Pep Guardiola embarked on afterward overshadowed it to some degree. That, at least, was not predictable and calculated.

READ MORE: Luis Díaz 'would like to come' to Barcelona as Liverpool 'turns spotlight' on Mohamed Salah heir

READ MORE: Former Liverpool ace goes on VAR rant after 'ridiculous' Nottingham Forest controversy vs Everton

"I don't understand how we survived," Guardiola stated when speaking to the BBC. He had voiced concerns ahead of the game about the fixture congestion and took the chance — after his team had won, which is never a bad time to complain — to reiterate them.

Guardiola could have chosen to have a bigger squad, but that is not really the point. He might have spent big on one player — be it Erling Haaland, Joško Gvardiol or Jack Grealish — rather than two players of half the cost, but the schedule would be relentless regardless.

It is something that Jürgen Klopp has been vocal about in the past. The German's dislike for the early Saturday slot is well-known at this point because of the lack of preparation and recovery time it leaves between matches when there are midweek commitments to take on beforehand. The English schedule is regularly ridiculed in Germany and rightly so.

In the week that the authorities were criticized for scrapping FA Cup replays, there has to be a balance and a nuance to the discussion. Perhaps those lower down the pyramid would argue that Manchester City, Liverpool and the rest should simply get on with it, but that overlooks the wider importance of looking after players.

Those at the top level are exposed to all sorts of games that simply don't need to be so compacted. And that is before you consider the expanded Champions League and Club World Cup formats that are coming soon, or the pointless international friendlies that have to be endured every few months.

"It's unacceptable to let us play today," Guardiola continued. "It's impossible, for the health of the players. It's not normal. One hundred and twenty minutes, the emotions of Madrid, the way we lose, honestly.

"I know this country is special [with the FA Cup] but it's for the health of the players. I just want to protect my players. It's common sense. I'm not asking for something special or privilege."

On this occasion, there was a simple solution. Manchester City vs Chelsea could easily have been staged on Sunday rather than a day earlier, giving Guardiola's side an extra day to recover. That, though, was far too logical. Instead, a completely unnecessary and potentially injury-threatening situation was allowed to unfold.

Klopp, speaking after Liverpool had exited the Europa League, felt that fixture congestion was the reason for so many English sides dropping out of the running for success across the UEFA board. "(The Premier League) is the best league in the world," he said.

"I watch a lot of football and when you watch the leagues, whatever other league, Italy improved a lot over the years and back to its best pretty much, Spain is obviously fantastic, Bundesliga is there, France, everywhere they play good football.

"But the Premier League is the most intense league definitely. Besides Aston Villa, I think all (English) teams are out in the quarter-finals. Without me saying it, maybe someone writes an article about that tomorrow. It’s tricky. But, thank god, not my problem any more."

It might not be Klopp's problem now but the issue remains. After years of the Liverpool boss making his feelings clear, nothing, quite clearly, has changed.