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Highlights on Off The Ball

Klopp gambles popularity as he suggests players not being prioritised

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed his concerns over extremely busy schedule while vacc...

Klopp gambles popularity as he...

Klopp gambles popularity as he suggests players not being prioritised

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed his concerns over extremely busy schedule while vaccination rates in the city remain low. 

A report presented to Liverpool's Council Cabinet at the beginning of the month highlighted that Liverpool had the 29th lowest vaccine uptake rate out of 309 local authorities in England and had the fifth worst uptake rate of the eight English core cities.

The report warned that these poor figures "leave the city with a continuing higher risk of onward transmission, social and economic disruption, and ongoing demands on hospital, NHS and council services".

"Swift action is needed as winter approaches, case numbers rise and immunity in vulnerable older vaccinated people wears off.

"Unvaccinated individuals report many different reasons for not being vaccinated and there is no 'one size fits all' solution."

According to the NHS as of 20 December, 307,067 people in Liverpool had received a second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

That is less than 62% of the city's population of just under 500,000.

This data makes Jurgen Klopp's latest comments in relation to football and Covid-19 interesting- is he gambling losing his massive popularity with fans to speak out for what he believes in?

Would the quite large percentage of unvaccinated people in the city prefer to see football continue no matter what?

The German coach has used his programme notes ahead of their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night to try and get his message across.

"Of course, it is not possible to write this column without acknowledging the growing anxiety in society and football around the Covid situation.

"There is not much I can say that brings encouragement or comfort. I know each household will have its own issues to contend with at this moment.

"There'll be people here tonight and reading this gripped with worry about what might happen in the coming days and weeks.

"Our supporter base reflects society. We’ll have fans who work for the health service and are about to put themselves in harm’s way again and again for the benefit of the rest of us. Likewise other essential workers and the emergency services.

"We’ll have fans who will be isolating this Christmas, unable to spend time with friends and loved ones. We’ll have fans frightened about the impact on their jobs and livelihoods. We’ll have fans dealing with the grief of losing loved ones. We’ll have fans with various difficulties in their lives which the current situation exacerbates and amplifies to a point it might feel at times unbearable.

"What can I say in these circumstances that isn’t reductive or insensitive to things that really matter?

"I suppose it’s this: the common connection we all share is LFC. And via that link, we are family. We are a community."

Although Klopp says they will fulfill their upcoming fixtures he seems clearly uncomfortable with the busy schedule going ahead in these difficult times.

It was confirmed on Monday that the busy Christmas and New Year schedule would continue 'where safely possible' after a meeting was held between all 20 Premier League clubs.

Klopp has outlined his reservations about this;

"Ahead of Tottenham away in particular we were in communication with the league, via their medical advisory guys, and it was apparent that postponement of the game wouldn’t have been something they would consider given the level of infection within our group. So, we follow that guidance and we play.

"We play until we are told we should stop. We have to trust those making the decisions."

"I do passionately believe we have to look at the schedule as part of this though. My view on the lack of recovery and preparation time for players over this period is well-documented.

"This, though, is different. Even though I don’t think it is right in normal times, it feels wrong to insist teams play fixtures within two days of each other in this present situation.

"Every squad will have been impacted by the current COVID crisis in some way, clearly some more than others. But we cannot put our hands over our eyes and pretend this is a ‘normal’ situation. It isn’t. It’s extraordinary. And on that basis I implore those with the power to make change to intervene.

"Please do so for the welfare of the players. It’s nothing to do with competition or advantage. To think that in the present climate you would need to be pretty craven.

"Look at the situation. Look at the physical strain on the athletes already. Let’s work collaboratively to find a solution. It is not OK to ask teams to play twice in two days at the moment. It is absolutely not OK, actually. It would be entirely wrong. Someone has to act."

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Covid-19 Jurgen Klopp Liverpool Premier League