Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reiterated the importance of squad depth following Tuesday night’s 5-0 Champions League thrashing of Atalanta, a game which saw Roberto Firmino rested at the start and replacement Diogo Jota score a hat-trick inside an hour.
The squeezed Champions League schedule, which is currently forcing clubs to play every midweek until December aside from the November international break, makes it more crucial than ever than for managers to have rotation options to call upon without reducing quality on the pitch.
But in light of Jota’s recent performances, including a run now of six goals in his last four appearances, it has been suggested that Klopp now faces permanently dropping one of his established front three to keep the Portuguese in the team – in particular, Firmino.
Yet Klopp has rubbished the idea that he has a selection ‘headache’ and suggested it was wrong for Jota’s excellent display to immediately bring questions about Firmino.
“Good performances never give me a headache,” he said post-match, via LiverpoolFC.com.
For tonight that was the decision, it was clear it makes sense for tonight, first of all to use the good shape Diogo is in. And because of the way Atalanta plays and defends, it made sense that the skillset of Diogo helps,” the Reds boss explained.
“But the world is sometimes a really bad place that in the moment when somebody is shining, we speak immediately about another player who played for us – it feels like, 500 games in a row.
“We would not be in the Champions League if Bobby Firmino was not with us. And immediately I have to explain why he is not in the team. He will be in the team. On a good day, he is [impossible] to defend [against].
“For us, it’s important that we have more than 11 and Diogo used his shape in an incredible way and played a super, super game. But that says nothing about Bobby and has nothing to do with me causing headaches.”
Jota started alongside Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in a front four in Liverpool’s last Premier League game against Sheffield United.
None of the established trio started against Midtjylland in the Champions League last time out, while it was Jota who had to make do with a place initially among the substitutes for the game against West Ham.