By Dave Davis – @DaveD0106
“If someone has a problem with it he will have a problem with me because he does not respect the situation.
“Who cannot be happy in these four months being part of the squad at Liverpool? I cannot help.”
Jurgen Klopp’s squad couldn’t argue it wasn’t made clear to them about rotation before the season started. Depending on which area any Red refers to, there’s a clear and identifiable pattern.
The front three are rested rather than rotated for obvious reasons. Defence isn’t an area that successful sides rotate and injuries have been key. The middle of the pitch maybe most crucial in the long run.
Virgil van Dijk went one step further than the manager:
“You have to (understand), otherwise you better leave.”
Understandable coming from a man who has played 2305 minutes this season. The Dutchman has found himself lining up consistently alongside Allison (2340 mins) and Robertson (2137) in the back five.
Joe Gomez (1452) started the season as van Dijk’s preferred partner but injuries have seen Lovren (900) and Matip (542) given opportunities which both took when fit. Trent (1730) has also been a regular, yet defence has been a case of who is available so far.
With the front three, it was always a case of managing their game time as opposed to rotating them. Salah (2190), Mane (2110) and Firmino (1934) were always going to be taken off when games were won or rested at the right times.
Daniel Sturridge (502) and Divock Origi (172) have made more than useful contributions, yet they are simply cover.
Klopp has often tended to alter formation or bring on midfielders, such as Adam Lallana for Sadio Mané against Arsenal. Liverpool will need luck with their fitness if this season is to end in success and it would be no surprise if none start against Wolves in the cup.
Midfield has been the most carefully managed area, down to the options available and a search for the correct blend. The derided trio of Georginio Wijnaldum (2023), James Milner (1545) and Jordan Henderson (1244) have rightly earned praise this season and been the key men as it currently stands.
The captain has found himself behind Fabinho (969) in recent times, but Henderson appears to have risen to the recent challenge. Xherdan Shaqiri (982) has started to wow Anfield each week whilst Naby Keita (885) has been a slow burner at best and not helped by injuries. Lallana (303) appears to simply be cover at best.
At the busiest time of the football calendar, Liverpool will need legs and any Jurgen Klopp side needs midfield runners. Milner, Henderson, Fabinho, Keita and Shaqiri have all played less than the equivalent of 18 games with the Premier League season over halfway through.
Last campaign, the Reds only had three fit midfielders for the large part which would have stuck in the manager’s mind. The new additions have been introduced slowly for specific reasons. Klopp will be hoping that the benefits will have been clear for all to see come the end of the campaign.