Everything Premier League managers have said about new Champions League format

UEFA have announced that the Champions League will undergo major reforms, with the revamped format set to come into effect from the 2024-25 campaign.

Under the plans, the number of teams involved in the tournament will increase from 32 to 36 and those who qualify will play 10 group stage games.

The traditional four team groups will be axed and replaced by a single division, with the top eight teams automatically qualifying for the last 16 and 16 other sides facing off in a play-off round.

The eight teams which emerge victorious in the play-offs will then enter the last 16, with the remainder of the competition following the existing format.

The new Champions League reforms have largely not gone down well with managers, who are concerned about the extra games that their players will have to play.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has said he is not a fan of the new format, explaining: "I’m not sure if I like it because I can only see more games at the start of it, more games in a schedule that we have.

"It’s very hard for me to be excited at all. All these discussions about Super League made us forget that we have a new format of Champions League very soon.

"Did they ask any coach about this? I don’t think so. They didn’t ask me. Did they ask any player about it? I don’t think so. We have so many new formats with the Nations League, the world championship for clubs coming soon.

"There’s so much new stuff, so many more games and more teams in the European Championship in the summer. More, more, more games. Not more quality, just more games.

"They push you to play more games and at the same time we have three substitutes in the Premier League and domestic competitions. I’m not happy about these competitions, not at all. But I was not involved."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit out at the reforms, saying: "We demand – the managers – to reduce the calendar, protect the players and they do the opposite. I’m not the guy to tell them.

"Premier League, UEFA, FIFA, we give our opinion and we cannot do anything. If they decide more games then there are more games, the show must go on.

"My business is this club, trying to make players better and win titles. Then in the World Cup if they want 56 teams then we’ll have it.

"It’s been incredibly tough this season, five or six days off and go to national teams. They want to train them and make a good competition. Then they’ll have 10 or 15 days and they go on tour with their clubs. Then the Community Shield and you have to play to win.

"Every season it’s the same. They play, as they love to play, but the injuries come. UEFA know it but do they care? Absolutely not. More games and competitions. We are lucky to be in the Champions League, we are going to play it but it’s a lot, honestly.

"Not one midweek off. I cannot train, I’m not a manager, we handle the players as best as possible. It’s just (watching) videos. I cannot train.

"We did not have time for [football] principles in pre-season. Didn’t have a friendly and no midweeks off. The players went to national teams for three games. It’s crazy but then they play more games.

"The guys not in Champions League or Europa League, they play a new competition (European Conference League), so let’s go. It’s a lot. An actor in the theatre, three times a day? Once a day they like it, but three times a day is too much."

Guardiola's thoughts were echoed by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who said: "You can't just introduce always more competitions. It's very good that the new Super League is off the table, but the new Champions League isn't great.

"Ten games rather than six and no idea where to put them in. The only people who never get asked are the coaches, the players and the supporters.

"UEFA didn't ask us, the Super League didn't ask us. It's just always 'play more games'. The new Champions League, what's the reason for that? Money… I have no idea how we're supposed to deal with even more games.

"You can't have 20 teams in a league, two cup competitions, 10 international games before Christmas – these things aren't possible."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also concerned about the extra games, saying: "The new ­format of the Champions League gives the players more games – and we need to look after the players so they can play at their best level.

"I know there’s money in it, but they are human beings. I want the best possible product, the best possible games of ­football, and the magic of a final or semi-final has to be there.

"We’re moving towards the end of this season and players are playing every two to three days. It’s hard to play at your maximum level after a long, long season.

"Of course players want to be part of a final. Of course they want to be part of a European Championship or a World Cup. But are we preparing them to play at the highest standard?

"We have to listen to the players. Everyone knows this year has been particularly difficult and special, because of the pandemic. And I think football has been a release in terms of mental health for the people and the players as well.

"We’ve been ­privileged to play games. But the product will be ­better when the fans are back in – and it will be even better still when we get a couple more days between games.

"This week has been fantastic because it has been the first time since August 2019 when we haven’t had a midweek game, apart from the midweek break we had before Project Restart.

"To get the best possible product there are many, many ways we can do that – but listen to the fans, listen to the players and listen to us managers."

However, Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, who has won the Champions League three times during his management career, believes the new format will be "more exciting from the beginning".

He said: "I think in 2024 there will be a new format for the Champions League and on there I think that they can talk and find the best solution to have this competition more and more exciting and competitive.

"Every one of us wants the Champions League to be more competitive. It gets exciting from March. It could be exciting from September.

"The new format will be better, it will be more exciting from the beginning, but I think that the 12 clubs were not happy about that. If they were happy, they could accept this."

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