Manchester United's fixture pile-up a 'crime', says Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
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LIVERPOOL – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said forcing Manchester United to play three Premier League matches in five days was a "crime" ahead of Thursday's rearranged fixture between the two sides.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 10 changes ahead of his side's 2-1 home defeat by Leicester on Tuesday, which confirmed Manchester City as champions.
But the result also gave Leicester, now in third, a nine-point advantage over deposed champions Liverpool, who are scrambling to qualify for next season's Champions League.
Klopp's side, who have two games in hand over Leicester, are seven points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, having played a game fewer.
"I said it 500 times that with all the things that happened, and the protests at Manchester, to play Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday is a crime," Klopp said on Wednesday.
"It is. But it is not the fault of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the players. My question to myself was: 'Would I have done the same?' Yes. You have to. You have to."
Klopp said Premier League bosses had failed in their objective following the postponement of the United-Liverpool clash earlier this month as a result of protests at Old Trafford against US owners the Glazers.
"The explanation from the Premier League was that no other team should suffer because of the things (protests) that happened in Manchester," he said.
"Let me say it like this -- that didn't work out pretty well. A little bit West Ham (in fifth place), a little bit Liverpool (suffered).
"But if we don't qualify for the Champions League it is not the fault of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team selection or the Premier League, it is our fault."
Klopp was fulsome in his praise of Pep Guardiola's achievement in winning the league title for the third time in four seasons, hailing him as the "best manager in the world".
It is a ninth European league title as a manager for Guardiola, who won three La Liga crowns with Barcelona and the Bundesliga three times with Bayern Munich.
"A great achievement, congratulations," said Klopp. "I texted Pep last night and Ilkay (Gundogan, a player Klopp managed at Borussia Dortmund).
"It was a very difficult year for the whole world, for football teams as well, and what they achieved so far this year is exceptional."