In Klopp v Murphy there is only one winner

Date published: Saturday 9th January 2016 2:13

“If you’re not going to use Adam Lallana when you’re losing the game, why bring him? Surely the supporters must be thinking that. If I was Lallana, I would be fuming. I would seriously. I would be saying to the manager, ‘Why bother bringing me? Why not leave me at home and give me a rest? If you’re not going to bring me on when we’re losing the game and my job is to create and score goals, why bring me?’”

And with those comments, Danny Murphy added arrows to the bulging quiver of those who believe footballers have no sense of perspective and more sense of entitlement than Little Lord Fauntleroy. To be ‘fuming’ because you have travelled to Exeter to sit on a bench while a new generation (aided by a handful of misfits) of Liverpool players toil on a bog of a pitch is incomprehensible to those outside the game. The idea of a decent but unspectacular Premier League footballer demanding explanations from a Bundesliga-winning manager is simply ridiculous.

We can only hope that Lallana – who seems like a thoroughly nice chap – is nowhere near as precious as his BBC champion, who spoke like he was being paid per ‘Lallana’. We suspect that Klopp had already explained to both Lallana and Lucas Leiva, who also ‘needlessly’ made the trip, that they were there largely to provide support and encouragement to a callow Liverpool side. Klopp reluctantly sent Lallana to warm up with 20 minutes remaining with Liverpool trailing 2-1; he sat back down at 2-2, emergency action no longer required.

Lallana has played over six hours of football in less than three weeks, with his last 90 bruising minutes coming on Tuesday against Stoke. That the England international was not required to play at a League Two ground where he would inevitably be a magnet for ‘welcoming’ challenges may well have engendered relief rather than fury. ‘KLOPP RISKING HUMILIATION’ was the headline in the Daily Mail on Friday. Thankfully, humiliation has been avoided and so have further fatigue and injury.

“It’s just a physical game,” said Lallana when attempting to explain Liverpool’s glut of injuries this week. “Look at the amount of games we’ve had over the Christmas period. It’s been a tough run and with the demands on players nowadays there’s bound to be injuries.”

Does that sound like a man who would be ‘fuming’ at being left on the bench for an FA Cup tie with Exeter?

Murphy not only misjudged the situation with Lallana’s fitness but also the feelings of the majority of Liverpool fans, who do not see the £25m signing as a potential saviour. A willing runner and an early adopter of Klopp’s gegenpressing, yes, but most would be reluctant to cast him in the role of guardian angel. Ask Reds supporters whether they would prefer to see the exciting Sheyi Ojo make an impact off the bench or Lallana – the majority would plump for the 18-year-old without hesitation.

On a night when he also bizarrely suggested that the Exeter players would not try to beat Liverpool in order to secure a nice evening out at Anfield, Murphy had got it all wrong. Liverpool fans can be quietly happy with a dodged banana skin; Lallana can too.

Sarah Winterburn

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