Jurgen Klopp has no regrets about leaving striker Daniel Sturridge out of Liverpool’s Europa League semi-final defeat to Villarreal on Thursday and insists he would make the same decision again.
Despite scoring in his three successive appearances prior to the 1-0 first-leg loss at El Madrigal, Sturridge found himself on the bench in Spain and was an unused substitute.
Klopp admitted the decision was taken in expectation of a more offensive approach from Villarreal and that defeat naturally brings questions over his selection.
However, the German insisted he felt he was making the right choice at the time.
“I was always thinking more about the strengths of a player, rather than the weaknesses. [On Thursday] I didn’t think about his weaknesses, we just had to find a line-up which knows how to defend against a side like Villarreal without any training time together,” said the Liverpool boss, whose side face Swansea City in the Premier League on Sunday.
“After the game everybody was asking me if I had the same feeling, about whether Villarreal were pleased with a draw. If you watch a few more Villarreal games you will see that usually they play completely differently – usually they are much more dominant.
“You can’t be fourth in the Spanish league without being a really good side that plays football – it’s not all about the counter-attack. There were a few points in the game when you could see this and we had to defend and find stability.
“With decisions like this [leaving Sturridge out] I always have two questions: ‘Was it the right decision?’ With a 1-0 defeat, you have to say that I did not get it 100 per cent right. And: ‘Would I do it again?’ [The answer to that is] Yes.
“Then it’s finished, I don’t have to think about it. We can think about what might have happened with Daniel from the beginning, or half-time.
“I don’t know what would have happened but that’s my life, I’m a manager and I make decisions. It was a decision made for this particular line-up, not against Daniel. That’s all.”
Klopp added that managing Sturridge’s fitness also plays a role in his team selection, denying that he is testing the forward by affording Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino more game time.
“If you want you can say it like that but it was a completely different situation. Daniel was always coming back from injury but now he is fit for the longest time since he came here from Chelsea and that’s very, very, very important,” he continued.
“We could’ve played him in the first games hoping he would have done something special, but that would not have been the right decision for him because he would have got injured again. The Premier League, Europa League, they’re too quick, too intense [for that].
“Daniel’s mentality is really good, really confident, because he has all those qualities and he knows about his qualities. So my job is to try and help the player and help the team in this moment.”
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