Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool must rotate squad during busy Christmas period
Klopp also responds to Lionel Messi's praise of Sadio Mane following Liverpool forward's fourth-place Ballon d'Or finish
By Calum Wilson
Last Updated: 06/12/19 6:01pm
Jurgen Klopp says he must be "sensible and sensitive" with Liverpool's squad selection during their packed end-of-year schedule.
The Reds began an extremely busy December with a 5-2 victory over local rivals Everton on Wednesday, with Klopp springing a surprise by omitting both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool's trip to Bournemouth on Saturday begins a run of a minimum of seven matches in 22 days, including a trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup.
Asked how his players deal with being rested, Klopp said: "In this moment you need a smart squad, people with half a brain at least.
"I cannot explain things properly all the time, they have to understand it without me telling them. Thank God we have that.
"I don't make decisions out of the blue, there are always reasons and the boys understand them.
"There is no time for rest and to think about the situation, but we have to try.
"When you are a football supporter you have your 'best 11' and you want them to play all the time but it is not FIFA or Playstation.
"We have to do these kind of changes. If we have the opportunity, we will do it."
Xherdan Shaqiri was handed a first Premier League start since January 30 in the win over Everton, and Klopp was delighted with his goalscoring contribution.
"Shaq (Xherdan Shaqiri) was injured twice and it takes time to come back," Klopp said. "During that situation the team are winning pretty much all the games and if he doesn't get frustrated that he isn't playing then that's not smart. That is how it is in football.
"I don't expect perfection from the moment you come on the pitch but I expect the desire to show you are good enough and Shaq did that.
"That was a really good team we sent on the pitch [against Everton]. I was never in doubt about their quality.
"The boys that came on have a lot of training and a busy schedule. You never know 100 per cent, but I was really happy with the way the boys turned up.
"That was only one game and we have to show the same again tomorrow [against Bournemouth]. We have only 3 days between the games so we have to be sensible and sensitive about the line-up again."
Klopp not listening to Christmas No.1 record
Victory over Bournemouth will guarantee Liverpool are top at Christmas for the fourth time in the last 11 seasons.
They are the only side to have failed to convert that position into a title triumph during that period, but Klopp is not concerning himself with statistics.
"I have told you often enough and can tell you again that I am really not interested in these numbers, stats or history," he said.
"That is part of the deal when you are in a good position. There are a lot of people who celebrate already and a lot who worry still.
"I don't listen to either of them to be honest. We want to try and win at Bournemouth, what that means for Christmas does not bother me.
"We know we are in a really difficult situation with the games coming up but we accepted that long ago.
"Now we have to deal with it. We are positive in this moment but we need to be lucky with the players staying healthy. These are things that worry us more than who is top at Christmas."
Klopp on Messi's Mane praise
Earlier this week, Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi said it was a "shame" that Sadio Mane had not finished higher than fourth place in the standings.
The Barcelona forward selected Mane as his Player of the Year in the FIFA Best awards earlier this season, and Klopp believes the Senegal international still has an "incredible career" ahead of him.
"The first three in the Ballon d'Or was Messi, [Virgil] Van Dijk, Cristiano [Ronaldo] and then Sadio, that's a nice row and having two players there shows a lot," Klopp said.
"Sadio is in incredible shape. He was always, since the first day he was in, an incredibly important player.
"Somebody showed me [Franco] Baresi was really positive about Virgil van Dijk - one of the biggest defenders I can remember, so that's kind of like being crowned by the king.
"And for an offensive player, when Messi says something like this [it is the same].
"Sadio in the game against Barcelona at home [last season], he was quite impressive, it looked like we had three of him on the pitch.
"He kept that shape, that's really good and if stays healthy, he will have an incredible career in front of him. I think he can climb in that table, Ballon d'Or-wise."
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