Klopp laments switch back to three substitutes ahead of new season

LONDON: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday that the Premier League's decision to return to a system of allowing up to three substitutes in a match instead of five was not based on facts and the well-being of players was not taken into consideration.

In May, soccer's rule-making body IFAB changed the regulations governing the maximum number of substitutes to help teams battling fixture congestion as they looked to complete the season after a three-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IFAB left it to individual leagues to decide if they wanted to adopt the rule this season and Premier League clubs voted at their annual general meeting last month against continuing to allow the use of five substitutes in each game.

"I thought from a common sense point of view it would be clear we will have 20 (players in the squad) and five (substitutes)," Klopp told reporters. "It's not an advantage, I don't like that we deal with this thing around the wrong facts.

"It's about players' welfare and the highest quality in games for all teams... Look at the other countries, Bayern (Munich) have the best team and have an advantage with the five subs (in the Bundesliga) but they play the most games.

"Now it is 18 (in the squad) and three (substitutes), so you have to rotate more, you need numbers and fit players. That's the job we have to do. We have to make the decisions."

Champions Liverpool host second-tier title holders Leeds United in their first match of the new campaign on Saturday and Klopp expects Marcelo Bielsa's side to thrive in the top flight.

"It's not the most expansive style where they will open up, they are well-drilled and the way they defend is exceptional -- pretty much man-marking plus one," Klopp said.

"They will face challenges because... some different animals are around than in the Championship (second tier), but they will do well in the Premier League. It suits them more than the Championship and now they can show their full potential."