John Aldridge: Jurgen Klopp got all his big calls wrong on Saturday - Sadio Mane is right to be angry
SADIO Mane should have started for Liverpool against Chelsea on Saturday and I am not surprised that he was seriously annoyed to spend his evening warming the bench.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp threw a few curve balls with his team selection and tactics for one of the biggest games of his side’s season and if we are being honest, his gambles didn’t pay off as Chelsea snatched a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
Daniel Sturridge didn’t do enough to suggest he deserves as regular place in the side and Klopp should have switched to a back five defensive line for the final 15 minutes to the game as Chelsea pushed for their equaliser.
Klopp said after the game that he wanted to make that change and the referee stopped him, but I’d have gone to five at the back long before he tried to do it and Chelsea scored because they had too much space in wide areas and got lucky with Willian’s goal.
A lot has been made of Mane’s agitated exchange with Klopp as the duo talked on the pitch after the game, but I don’t have a problem with the way Sadio reacted.
The video shows Mane arguing with Klopp and not interested in his offer of a hug.
While that may be viewed as disrespecting his manager, I empathise with him as I’d have felt the same if I was in his position.
He is one of Liverpool’s most dangerous forwards, he has the pace and power to trouble any defence and unless Klopp was trying to protect him because he is carrying a little injury, I can’t understand why he picked Sturridge to start ahead of him.
Mane was brought on very late and by then, he didn’t have enough time to get into the game and affect it as he would have wanted, with his annoyance a sign of how much he wants to play and his desire to do well for the club.
Mohamed Salah is in sensational scoring form and his latest goal against Chelsea took his tally to 15 since he joined Liverpool only last summer.
But I still feel the team is more dynamic and threatening when Mane is injecting his brand of pace and direct play into the mix.
While a draw against Chelsea wasn’t a bad result, it felt like two points had been dropped given the manner of their late goal and it means that Liverpool head to Stoke tomorrow night in need of a win.
If the Chelsea result is backed up by away wins against Stoke and Brighton in the Premier League this week, it will not be a bad return of points from a demanding few days of matches.
Yet there is very little wiggle room for Klopp now after the events of Saturday night and that is why I expect him to get what I consider to be the first team out for the Stoke game.
That means Roberto Firmino and Mane will start against Mark Hughes’s side and I also expect to see changes at the back once again.
I cannot understand why Klopp seems so reluctant to give Andrew Robertson a chance in his backline, as he looked good in the brief glimpses we saw of him at the start of the season, but maybe his time will come now.
I’d also expect Trent Alexander-Arnold to get a game over these next couple of matches, with Klopp clearly keen to give his players breaks in a bid to keep them fresh.
The danger with a rotation policy that is a regular part of Premier League football these days is that managers can make mistakes when picking the players they choose to leave out, with the continuity winning teams tend to have disrupted if too many changes are made.
However, this is the way the game is played now and I’d expect Emre Can and Adam Lallana to get a start at either Stoke or Brighton, with Gini Wijnaldum also likely to play one of those game as he shakes up his midfield three of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Saturday.
All managers make mistakes and Klopp made a few that contributed to Liverpool dropping a couple of points against Chelsea on Saturday.
Now, he needs to get it right in these next two matches.