The no-score draw against Plymoutth was the second game in a row where some fans were left pondering Klopp’s rotation strategy. It’s fair to say more than a few supporters were less than satisfied with a fourth tier team coming to Anfield and earning a replay. Are they right to be unhappy?

Against Sunderland Klopp was accused of rotating too few players after the team had played just 48 hours earlier, and against Plymouth he was accused of rotating too many players with all but one player from the previous team being replaced. However, this description of events is unfair. Klopp had legitimate reasons for not choosing and then choosing to rotate his players. He believed he was maintaining the ‘rhythm’ of his team by not making significant changes against Sunderland, and the ten changes he made against Plymouth were meant to give the young squad players game time and the injured players further time to recover.

Such explanations are perfectly reasonable but do they excuse Liverpool drawing against teams they really should be beating? In the not too distant past Brendan Rodgers was making similar choices at Liverpool’s helm and he too suffered poor results after extensively rotating his squad. Understandably, he was rather savagely pilloried by the fans on those occasions. Klopp is fortunate in that he’s currently heavily in credit with regard to goodwill so he’ll easily live to fight another day.

When it comes down to it, though, squad rotation is basically just luck and judgement. None of us can really predict how well a squad player will do when he’s given a chance in the first team, for example, there are so many variables to be taken into account, many of which are beyond the manager’s control. I must admit when I saw the team sheets for the last two games I was a little surprised by how few changes were made against Sunderland and how many were made against Plymouth, I personally would’ve tweaked the ratio of first team players to squad players in both games. However, that was just my gut reaction based on the basic information I had access to, Klopp was having to take into account a whole myriad of data unseen by the rest of us. That’s why, ultimately, it’s difficult to criticise managers regarding squad rotation – they’re making educated guesses using much more information than we, the fans, will ever see.

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warrior18
Member

What choice did he have, he had to make changes, no way could the same team play sunderland, plymouth and southampton in the space of a week, not to mention the game on sunday against united. It was the perfect opportunity for the fringe players to put themselfs in the frame for a starting 11 spot but they didn’t take it which is very disappointing. We should never have had to see firmino and lallana in this game, especialy firmino who has looked tired in the last few games. I was all for klopp making all those changes and giving the fringe players a chance, it’s why you have a big squad and it’s up to those players to take that chance when it comes along. I fully expect us to get through but the job should have been done at anfield but now klopp may have to give some of our first team players an extra game to play and that shouldn’t be the case, our fringe players are more than good enough to beat the likes of plymouth, they done themselfs no favours on sunday.

Huytonian
Member

Similar teams beat Spurs and Leeds in the League Cup so there was no reason to think the team selected yesterday couldn’t beat Plymouth. Hopefully the return fixture will be a little more open and we can capitalise. I wouldn’t change the team too much for that one though. At this stage of the season our priorities have to be the League and the League Cup. It was disappointing but supporters shouldn’t get too downhearted. I can recall the great Shankly team having a similar result against Port Vale at Anfield in 1965 when Shanks played the full first team, but we won the replay and eventually won the Cup that year.

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