Brendan Rodgers explains decision to play Liverpool second-string
Brendan Rodgers insists he wasn't taking a gamble resting his big-name stars
Brendan Rodgers has explained why he decided to play a second-string Liverpool side as Real Madrid were 1-0 winners at the Bernabeu.
The Liverpool manager left captain Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling on the bench for the clash against the Champions League holders.
It might have seemed a gamble from the outside, but certainly for me it wasn’t
Madrid forward Karim Benzema scored a first-half winner as Liverpool managed to register just one attempt on Iker Casillas’s goal in the Spanish capital.
But the Reds manager felt resting his big-name stars and giving a number of fringe players the chance to prove themselves wasn’t a gamble.
“I go with my gut feeling and it was that the performance we had on Saturday wasn’t as good as what we would have wanted,” Rodgers said.
“But it’s also what we’d planned out over a number of games – we had seven matches in 21 days, we’re trying to adapt players into a new way of working and playing. Because we can’t train as much, we have to see them, look at them and develop them in the games.
“Every game for Liverpool is a big game and I didn’t see this as a big showcase game where I had to play the so-called names and then not have a big game at the weekend.
“I thought the players were outstanding tonight. I look at Kolo Toure who came into the team, I thought he was excellent. Lucas Leiva, who hasn’t featured so much, was outstanding in that controlling midfield role.
“Emre Can is getting up to fitness and speed, Adam Lallana was excellent and got better as the game went on. Fabio Borini showed his intensity with pressure and movement at the top of the field and young Markovic worked hard and will get better as time goes on.
“It might have seemed a gamble from the outside, but certainly for me it wasn’t.”