Liverpool chief Brendan Rodgers believes that the way his team that faced Real Madrid on Tuesday has been branded ‘weakened’ is disrespectful.
The Reds manager opted to rest a number of key first-team stars for the clash at the Bernabeu, including captain Steven Gerrard, youngster Raheem Sterling, Mario Balotelli and Jordan Henderson.
Although they slipped to a 1-0 loss, the ‘back-up’ side performed admirably well, and could have nicked a result against the reigning European champions – who, in truth, dominated large periods of the game.
Rodgers’ call was said to be based on his side’s lunchtime clash with Chelsea on Saturday, with the Northern Irishman desperate to get a result against the unbeaten league leaders as he plots to get a top four charge back on track.
The Anfield chief, however, says that his XI against Real was not a weak one and that such claims are not fair to players such as Adam Lallana, Kolo Toure and Lucas:
“I put out the best team that I thought could get a result,” he is quoted by The Express. “My players were magnificent. I know there is a little bit of criticism about the selection, but it does a disservice to the players who played.
“We went into a game against the best team in the world at the moment with a plan and the idea was to make sure we stayed in the game and then in the last 20-25 minutes open up the game.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get a goal, but I was proud of the players as were the supporters. You take criticism as a manager, but for the players I didn’t think it was fair.
“To call Kolo Toure a reserve or Lucas Leiva or Adam Lallana a reserve player … I felt they deserved more praise.”