Hey Jurgen, if the timing is so bad, why did you play Salah and Mane against the children of Villa?
During the first few weeks of the season, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp played the role of a martyr as he selflessly struggled to protect the safety of his players as they were sorely forced to face a busy meeting schedule.
A particularly brutal streak of games saw one Liverpool player after another get injured in what appeared to be every game. There was a time when the Reds faced the prospect of being left without their goalie, their four full backs, two starting midfielders and two reserve forwards. It is obviously very wrong.
This is why most football fans supported Klopp as he embarked on a crusade against the broadcasters, complaining that their selfishness put his players in danger. His approach was not always popular, but most were sympathetic to a man who constantly wondered why English football was so hectic during the holiday season.
He’s a man desperate for any chances to rest some of his beloved players, so when news broke that Aston Villa would be playing a toddler squad in the FA Cup third round match on Friday Due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the senior team, it was assumed that Klopp would jump at the chance. Even Liverpool reservists are expected to make their way through Villa’s youth side.
However, Klopp still felt the need to play regular starters like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, who all started the 1-0 defeat to Southampton four days earlier.
He’s a man who previously described the hectic dating schedule as “dangerous” and “criminal.” In fact, he is not wrong. No one believes he is wrong, and just look at Liverpool’s injury history for the evidence if you need it.
However, how can Klopp expect people to take his complaints seriously when he doesn’t even take the opportunity to rest players when they arise?
It was the inclusion of Salah and Mane that was most surprising. These are two players – two of football’s elite talents – who rarely get the chance to sit on the bench, but Klopp clearly believed it was worth risking their physical form so Liverpool could make their way through in front of an under-18 team.
Is this a sad reflection of Klopp’s faith (or lack of) in Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri? Did the boss really believe his reserve players weren’t good enough to score beyond a starting lineup of players with a combined of them Wikipedia pages between them?
Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to slap a weaker team. Liverpool want to be the best team on the planet and showing sympathy is not in their nature.
But come on, choose your battles.
This isn’t even the first time Klopp’s words haven’t been backed up by his actions. The German was incredibly vocal in his desire to see five substitutes return so he could give his starters some much-needed breaks. He didn’t get his wish, but got an extension from the bench to nine players.
In the last ten Premier League games, which date back to early November, Klopp hasn’t always used the three submarines at his disposal. He’s regularly stopped at two and in the 2-1 win over Tottenham he didn’t even use one.
He obviously doesn’t to have use all subs – bringing inferior players into a close game is, well, mismanagement – but if he truly believes his players are risking their lives by sticking to that busy schedule, why doesn’t he more?
It’s admirable of Klopp to use his high status to fight the battle players need, but he ignores his own advice. If timing is such a problem, he should actually try to manage it.