Sam Allardyce reignites feud with Jurgen Klopp as he suggests Liverpool injury crisis is down to German's tactics

Black Cats boss says German's style of football could be hurting his Liverpool players

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The Independent Football

Sam Allardyce, the Sunderland manager, has renewed his verbal spat with Jürgen Klopp by claiming that the Liverpool manager’s demand for high intensity football at Anfield is to blame for the Merseyside club’s mounting injury crisis.

Liverpool are preparing to face League Two Exeter City in the FA Cup third round tomorrow night with 11 first-team players currently unavailable due to injury, with six of those ruled out with hamstring problems.

Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final, first-leg victory against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium was marred by Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren both limping out with hamstring injuries during the first half and the game ended with defender Kolo Touré unable to run due to cramp.

The former Borussia Dortmund coach, who replaced Brendan Rodgers as manager at Anfield in October, insisted after the 1-0 win that he would take full responsibility for the fitness problems currently afflicting his squad.

But Allardyce, who labelled Klopp a “soft German” following a touchline altercation during Liverpool’s 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light last week, believes that Klopp’s tactical approach and unfamiliarity with English football have contributed to the injury crisis at Anfield.

“That is him [Klopp] asking his players to play a high tempo pressing game from the top end,” Allardyce told talkSPORT radio. “It’s great that the players have been able to carry it out, but I think it has kicked in now.

“I don’t think Jürgen has realised just how ferocious our league is at this period of time. And because he has asked for that extra high energy – that extra 10 yards – these lads are fatiguing now with so many games in such a short period of time and are picking up these muscle strains.”

Although Allardyce’s comments are likely to be viewed as a domestic manager raising doubts over the methods of more-celebrated continental coaches, the former Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham manager has previously been regarded as a leading figure in attempting to modernise English football, with his work at Bolton, in particular, viewed as being ahead of its time.

There is little love to be lost between the pair

Having first called for a winter break over a decade ago during his time at the Reebok Stadium with Bolton, Allardyce insists that the increasing demands on players necessitate the need for a mid-season shutdown to be considered. “I still hark on about having a break at this time to lessen the workload on players,” Allardyce said. “As a league and as a country, we should look at helping the players along the way.

“Stoke played the same team for the fourth game in a row [against Liverpool] and their lads looked like they couldn’t run. They are highly trained athletes more than ever before, and they become more susceptible to injuries by the amount of work they do in a game now.”

Liverpool are yet to discover the full extent of the injuries sustained by Coutinho and Lovren at Stoke, with Klopp expected to deliver an update on their condition during his pre-match press conference at Melwood today. But speaking after the victory at the Britannia, Klopp admitted he would review his approach, despite insisting that the heavy fixture workload has reduced the time that his players spend on the training pitch.

“Maybe we would have to change our training methods,” Klopp said. “But we only have recovery, we don’t train. But I am responsible and if you want to blame me, then it is my responsibility. We now have three injured centre-halves and the only fit one got cramp in the last minute, so that’s not the most funny. The biggest problem for us is we have two and maybe three injured players again. It is very frustrating.

“It is a cycle that needs to stop. It’s a big shadow over the game for us, the injuries. I don’t know how serious they are and we have to wait.”

Meanwhile, the Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen has admitted that he is yet to start talks about a new contract, with his future becoming uncertain since the sacking of Rodgers, the manager who signed him from Swansea for £15m in 2012. The Wales international, who impressed during the win over Stoke, has 18 months to run on his current deal, but with Klopp expected to spend on new additions this summer, Allen admits he is in the dark.

“That’s something that’s gone very quiet,” Allen said. “I’m not too sure really, I’ve only made one league start this season, so I want to play more, but I think that’s obvious for any player in that situation. From my point, of view it’s just about knuckling down, doing my job and giving my best, which is always what I do.”