EPL

Klopp says Premier League stars face 'difficult' task of fighting celebration instinct: It's an emotional game!

By Sports Desk January 15, 2021

Jurgen Klopp believes it will be tough to programme Premier League stars to change goal celebration habits overnight as football tightens up its social distancing rules.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters this week wrote to clubs to advise that players should cut out unnecessary contact including hugs, handshakes and high fives.

Those can take place at any time but are particularly likely when a goal is scored, when there is typically a rush to congratulate any player who finds the net.

Out goes the norm this weekend, however, as clubs have been reminded in follow-up calls to captains and managers that such behaviour must be avoided.

Football authorities are determined to stick to coronavirus era protocols as keenly as possible, to avoid further rises in cases among players and to ensure the leagues can continue during lockdown.

Klopp, boss of champions Liverpool, believes so many new measures have been introduced and respected that risks on the field are already low, saying his players have done "an incredible job to be disciplined".

He said: "We stick to the rules, and if now somebody says if you do this again we have to stop the game I wouldn't understand to be honest, but I'm not the decision maker."

Liverpool face Manchester United on Sunday at Anfield in the biggest game of the Premier League season so far.

Klopp said: "I understand rules have to be strict … but we have to learn from the things that have worked in the past few months and football worked."

When goals go in across the country this weekend, the instinct of many players will be to embrace team-mates, and there seems likely to be cases where the new advice is forgotten.

"If there's something to celebrate it will be in an appropriate way, but it's difficult," Klopp said.

"Football is an emotional game and what we should not forget in the discussion about this is these players are tested two or three times a week. During the week we reduce contract to a minimum."

He added: "If we would think and feel we would threaten one or two of our team-mates [with a goal celebration] we would never do it, it would just not happen."

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, whose side take on Sheffield United on Sunday, said the north London club were "very, very strict with what the Premier League asks us to do".

But his stars, including the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, are not being coached on how to avoid celebrations.

"We're not training not to celebrate goals," Mourinho said.

His suggestion is that a scorer should celebrate as exuberantly as before, unleashing the emotion that a goal can stir, and that others should stand off.

"For players on the pitch, it's a very individual thing," Mourinho said. "My advice is maybe the guy who scores express the emotion of the team by himself, alone.

"Maybe he can express all the emotions of the team and then of course share a walk with mates and happiness. And we try to make things the best we can."

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