Wednesday 18 July 2018

John Aldridge: There is one big area Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could improve on

Sadio Mane starts for Liverpool against Arsenal
Sadio Mane starts for Liverpool against Arsenal
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Liverpool goal scoring great John Aldridge has believes manager Jurgen Klopp needs to make better use of his substitutes heading into a week that could define the club's season.

Aldridge believes Klopp and his players deserve praise for bouncing back from a 4-1 defeat against Tottenham in late-October that threatened to derail their season, but he has suggested the Reds boss needs to be more proactive in shaking up his team in the second half of matches.

Former Ireland striker Aldridge was critical of Klopp for his delay in making changes to his team in the final minutes of last month's game against Chelsea, with Willian snatching a late equaliser after the Liverpool boss failed to bolster his defence.

Now Aldridge hopes he learns lessons from that experience after witnessing a similar dip in intensity levels during Saturday's 5-1 win at Brightom.

"Klopp made plenty of changes to his team at Brighton, but I have felt for some time that he could be a little more proactive in the way he uses his substitutes," states Aldridge.

"Klopp's brand of pressing football is physically demanding and the performance we saw at the weekend was typical of so many we have seen from Liverpool since this manager arrived at the club. Wonderful, scintillating first half football laid the foundations for another important Premier League win, but the effort Liverpool put into establishing their lead hit them in the second half physically.

"Time and again, we have seen Liverpool’s energy levels dip in the second half of matches and that scenario was played out once again as Brighton looked to come back into a game they should have been out of in the first half.

"Some Liverpool players looked tired in the second half, yet Klopp only brought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on after 80 minutes and Dominic Solanke after that. I felt those changes could have been made at around the 60 minute mark as a half an hour run out in a Premier League game is better than a training session and the lads on the bench would have been craving their chance to get on the field.

"If Klopp used Mane for the last 20 minutes at Brighton and took off Firmino or Salah, one of those two would have been fresh for the big games on the horizon, but they now go into the crucial game against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday and then the derby against Everton next Sunday."

Aldridge has backed Klopp's plans to use the full depth of his squad in a bid to keep his players fresh, even though he suspects stars like Mane find the policy frustrating.

"Klopp has been resting players with regularity in recent days and that may be because he has these two massive games coming up against Spartak Moscow and Everton on his mind," adds Aldridge.

"Mane was not happy when he was only a substitute against Chelsea and he may have been grumpy again at Brighton, but I can see why Klopp is making these decisions.

"He will have medical staff behind the scenes at Liverpool telling him what players are close to burn-out and while he has to listen to that advice, there would have been no harm in giving Mane 20 minutes at Brighton and giving one of his other players a break."

Read John Aldridge's column every week in the Sunday World.

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