Jurgen Klopp has spoken out against calls for a “circuit-break” shutdown to help reduce COVID-19 infections in the Premier League, with the Liverpool manager saying games should continue due to the safety measures in place within the sport.
West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce said earlier this week that a temporary pause to fixtures was needed following an escalation in positive tests, within the Premier League and in wider society in the United Kingdom.
Eighteen positive tests among players and club staff were reported by the Premier League earlier this week, but the league has said that there are no plans to halt the 2020-21 season and Klopp, whose team face Southampton at St. Mary’s on Monday, said that a continuation of fixtures is the best option.
“I am not a specialist, but we all try to do our best to keep the competition going,” Klopp said. “I think it works well.
“It is understandable [to have concerns], but we try to do everything to keep the boys as safe as possible and I think the competition can go on.
“It is important, as well. People want to watch it and, in this case, we are not part of society because usually we isolate, we go to the training ground and stuff like that, so I think we really can carry on.
“But I am not a specialist and I respect all the decisions made in the next few weeks.”
The rise in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks has led to the U.K. government imposing stricter social distancing measures, including a Tier system which has led to all Premier League clubs now being situated in Tier 3 or Tier 4.
These are the highest levels which both preclude supporters from attending sporting fixtures, ensuring that all games will be played behind closed doors until further notice.
Klopp said, however, that nobody should be surprised by the rise in cases and the subsequent impact on football.
“I think everybody knew before that the winter would probably be a second wave,” Klopp added. “On top of that for us and society, there was Christmas.
“It is a challenge when it is about self-isolation, so I am not surprised that the numbers go up. But that was in football as well that the numbers have gone up slightly.”
Klopp also urged caution over Virgil van Dijk‘s recovery from a cruciate knee ligament injury after the defender posted video on social media showing him stepping up his fitness work.
Van Dijk is battling to play again this season after undergoing surgery in October to repair the ligament which was damaged during the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park.
“Progress? Good, very good but still a long way to go,” Klopp said. “It is this type of injury.
“I can be happy when I see these videos because it shows we make good progress, but it will still take a lot of time.
“I would like to say something else but these are the facts.”