Monday 22 January 2018

Jurgen Klopp defends his decision to leave Philippe Coutinho out of Manchester City hammering

Liverpool were hammered by Manchester City but Klopp has defended his decision not to include Coutinho in squad
Liverpool were hammered by Manchester City but Klopp has defended his decision not to include Coutinho in squad

Mark Critchley

Jürgen Klopp defended his call to leave Philippe Coutinho at home for Liverpool's heavy 5-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday, claiming it was a “decision for the season”.

Klopp's side were already 1-0 down to a Sergio Aguero goal when Sadio Mané saw red in the closing stages of the first half for a high and dangerous challenge on Ederson, which resulted in the City goalkeeper being stretchered off.

Liverpool's heads collectively dropped from that point onwards, with braces from Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane consigning Klopp to the heaviest defeat of his two-year tenure at Anfield.

Even before Mané's dismissal, however, Liverpool lacked their usual attacking verve, with Mohamed Salah spurning their one clear-cut opportunity shortly after the half-hour mark. It would be their final shot on goal of the afternoon.

Despite appearing to miss Coutinho's invention, Klopp insisted that the rest would benefit the player, who has not appeared for Liverpool since failing to force through a summer move to Barcelona but took to the field twice with the Brazil national team last week. 

“I'm not sure it's that easy but if it's that easy it's cool, I have only to bring Phil in and everything is good again,” he said. “With Phil, we didn't create more chances against City in the past. It was the decision, no problem. Blame me for this, really no problem, but it was a decision for the season. He came back long flight, 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, three weeks without training. We play on Wednesday, we play on Saturday, we play, play, play.

I will have this situation all the time over the next three or four weeks, so we thought: 'OK, let's start immediately with this, give him three or four days of training and then he's available for us'."

On the specific absence of Coutinho's incisive passing, Klopp added: “We score a lot of goals and all the players on the pitch play these passes... You cannot play these passes better, you have only to make a little more of it. [Coutinho's] a fantastic player, that's really good, hopefully we can use him as quick as possible, but that's how it is.”

The Brazilian is in contention to return on Wednesday night when Liverpool entertain Sevilla at Anfield in their first Champions League group stage fixture for three years.

Independent News Service

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