Brendan Rodgers got it wrong last night. Simple as that. Yes, it was “only” a 1-0 defeat. Yes, some of the replacements had decent games. But none of this should detract from the simple fact: Liverpool went to Real in Europe’s greatest club competition, and they put out a bunch of reserves. Liverpool were last in the Champions League in the 2009-2010 under Rafa Benitez, and they have tried ever so hard to get back into the competition ever since. The irony is that now they have, their manager decides to rest 5 key players for a key Premier League fixture against Chelsea on Saturday. This is not how it should be and here are a few reasons why:
- The Champions League should be respected. Both Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho have both made thinly veiled criticisms of Rodgers’ team selection in the last couple of days and good on them to be honest. If Rodgers had actually decided to give it a go then who knows what the end result might have been? They sit third in their group and will take any points they can get, so it is entirely logical to play your first team when travelling to the Cup holders, and in Rodgers’ view, “probably the world’s best team.”
- Chelsea don’t play until tonight, which gives Liverpool an extra day of rest for their forthcoming league game. I’m no expert, but shouldn’t professional athletes be able to play 2 games within the space of 5 days? None of the Madrid players looked too exhausted despite playing the same amount of games so far this season.
- Many fans and pundits alike tried to justify the selection by claiming that some of the replacements played well, but the bottom line is that they lost. Lallana, Lucas, Borini and Toure can probably come away pretty happy with their individual performances, but if you think that someone like Markovic looked every inch a 20m pound player, then you are kidding yourself I’m afraid. In fact, Rodgers spent 110m on new players this summer, and can you honestly say that any of them have lived up to expectations, barring maybe Alberto Moreno?
- It’s an insult to the fans who have travelled miles to see their club take on the European Champions. I’m sure they had expected Liverpool to have a right go at Real Madrid, but I can imagine when they saw the team sheet that those expectations turned to wishful dreams. Liverpool had a total of 3 shots in the game, while Cristiano Ronaldo alone had 7 more than that.
All in all, a poor decision by Brendan Rodgers with regards to his team selection. People will say that his decision will be vindicated if they beat Chelsea on Saturday, but they have more chance of finding a one-ended stick than doing that.