Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp risk Dean Smith row over Premier League rule change

Pep Guardiola has agreed with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp that Premier League clubs should be allowed to make five substitutions – but Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has previously disagreed with their proposal.

Manchester City’s Guardiola has long argued about player welfare and the Spaniard has repeated his thoughts to the press after his side’s 6-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers in the Carabao Cup and fielded questions about what would be best for the English game.

Klopp has also been an advocate for increasing the number of substitutes that Premier League clubs are allowed to choose from on a matchday, as he continues to cite Liverpool’s hectic schedule last season.

However, a motion to increase the number of times coaches could utilise their bench was rejected last term, with Guardiola raising the issue, once again.

“I’m not here to change anything of this country,” Guardiola started out by saying.

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“When we have all around the world, five substitutions, we still have three. And in this calendar, I’m sorry guys this is ridiculous. That’s why there are many injuries.

“‘Well, why?’, because we cannot make five substitutions. When all around the world, they pay attention about our players, to be healthy, to use them better.

“No, here three. Every three days, game, every three days, game. We have no preparation. We have no pre-season, (we don’t have) anything. Just three substitutions, when everybody else has five.

“Maybe one day, the big bosses, the big clever guys will explain to me why.”

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The Premier League remains the only of Europe’s top five leagues to not have stuck with the five-sub rule that was temporarily introduced during Project Restart.

A third proposal was turned down by the clubs, midway through last season, much to both Liverpool and Manchester City’s frustration.

“We need help from outside. I’m not talking about us as Liverpool, but we have to make changes with the subs again. We have to talk about the fixture list, and those kind of things,” Klopp said in November 2020.

“Our hands from a specific point are tied. At Christmas we will play probably again twice in 48 hours and people will say I’m talking about it again, and while from a physical point of view it is possible [to play those games] it is really dangerous.

“Now, hopefully, those making the decisions can make the next steps.”

Last season, Villa head coach Smith insisted that he needed more evidence to prove player welfare is at risk before he backs the reintroduction of five substitutions in the Premier League.

He said, back in November 2020: “We had a meeting and we spoke at length about each manager’s individual feelings.

“I can only go from my football club, and if player welfare becomes an issue then it’s a no-brainer and you have to increase substitutions or look at the fixture scheduling.

“At the moment, I’m not seeing any trends from my players that suggest player welfare is an issue.

“I speak to my players all the time – I want the best for them and I want to look after them. That’s what we’re doing.”

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