Jurgen Klopp has explained to Liverpool’s official website that it was not his original plan to start Sadio Mane for Liverpool against Burnley yesterday.
The 29-year-old was playing his first game for The Reds in six weeks. Since then he has become an even bigger legend in his home country of Senegal by leading them to AFCON glory for the first time.
Now back on Merseyside, he was thrown straight in from the start at Turf Moor.
Speaking after Liverpool sneaked a 1-0 win, Klopp acknowledged that he hadn’t intended to start Mane at all and only put him in the team at the very last minute. .
“Sad played really, really well. As I said before (the game), it was not the plan to start him today because we know how intense everything was, but Diogo had a dead leg and couldn’t train yesterday, so we started Sadio,” the manager said.
The 54-year-old also said that it hadn’t been in his thoughts to give Luis Diaz a proper “Welcome to the Premier League” here.
“Luis has adapted really well but this is a completely different game, like a ‘Welcome to the Premier League’, so we didn’t want to try it if we didn’t need it so that’s why we started like we started – and Sad did really well,” continued Klopp.
“He worked incredibly hard and that’s exactly what we expected.”
Should Mane have started
It sounds like Jota would have started if he hadn’t have had an issue the day before the game. However, Klopp did have several options aside from starting Mane.
There’s logic in the decision not to start Diaz. After playing near enough the full 90 minutes against Leicester just three days earlier, there was no need to risk him against Burnley’s notoriously physical defence.
Having said that, the 25-year-old’s confidence will be sky-high after a brilliant debut and he looks well built to deal with the physicality the Premier League.
Klopp could also have gone with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The 28-year-old has been in good goalscoring form whilst playing further up the pitch for Liverpool.
He will be frustrated to find himself back on the bench after a decent run in the side. Yesterday could have been a good opportunity to give him some more minutes.
As it was, Sadio got the nod. Regardless of any fatigue, it was great to see him back in a Liverpool shirt. It wasn’t one of the £100k-a-week man’s most memorable displays, but it’s nice to have him in the fold ahead of a crucial period in the season.