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During the first weeks of the season, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp assumed the role of martyr as he selflessly fought to protect the safety of his players as they were cruelly forced to deal with a hectic match schedule.
In one particularly brutal stretch of games, one Liverpool player after another was injured in what appeared to be every game. There was a time when the Reds faced the prospect of running out of their goalkeeper, their four full defenders, two starting midfielders and two substitute forwards. That’s obviously very bathtub.
That’s why most soccer fans supported Klopp when he embarked on a crusade against broadcasters, complaining that his selfishness was putting his players at risk. His approach was not always popular, but most were sympathetic to a man who has always questioned why English football is so frenzied during the festive period.
This is a man desperate for a chance to put some of his beloved players to rest, so when it was learned that Aston Villa was going to be playing a team of young boys in Friday’s FA Cup third round match due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the senior team, Klopp was supposed to seize the opportunity. Even Liverpool’s reserves should make their way through Villa’s youth squad.
However, Klopp still felt the need to play regular starters like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, who started the 1-0 loss to Southampton four days earlier.
This is a man who has previously described the hectic match schedule as “dangerous” and “criminal.” Realistically, you are not wrong. Nobody thinks he’s wrong, and you just have to look at Liverpool’s injury history for evidence if you need it.
Yet how can Klopp expect people to take his complaints seriously when he doesn’t even take opportunities to rest players when they arise?
It is the inclusion of Salah and Mane that is most surprising. These are two players, two of football’s elite talents, who rarely get a chance to sit on the bench, but Klopp clearly believed that it was worth risking their fitness to ensure Liverpool could outperform one. U18 team.
Is it a sad reflection of Klopp’s faith (or lack thereof) in Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri? Did the boss really believe that his reserve players weren’t good enough to score beyond a starting lineup of players with a combined two 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.
It is not even the first time that Klopp’s words have not been backed up by his actions. The German incredibly expressed his desire to see five substitutes return so he could give his starters some much-needed breaks. He did not get his wish, but was granted a bank extension to nine players.
In the last ten Premier League games, dating back to early November, Klopp hasn’t always used the three substitutes available to him. He regularly stops at two, and in the 2-1 win over Tottenham, he didn’t even use either.
Obviously not Yard using all the substitutes, bringing in inferior players in a close game is, well, bad management, but if you really think your players are risking their lives by adjusting to this hectic schedule, why aren’t you doing more?
It’s admirable that Klopp uses his elevated status to fight the battle players need, but he’s ignoring his own advice. If the schedule is a problem, you should try to manage it.