Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol has hit out at manager Brendan Rodgers for his approach to the 1-0 Champions League defeat at Real Madrid.
With Real in the midst of an 11-game winning-streak, manager Rodgers opted to make seven changes to his line-up from the weekend’s loss at Newcastle United, with captain Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson all left on the bench, and Dejan Lovren not even among the substitutes.
That saw the likes of Javier Manquillo, Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini drafted in to face the team that won 3-0 at Anfield just a fortnight ago, with numerous pundits and fans alike questioning the move.
The Northern Irishman flatly denied his team selection was made with a view to Saturday’s home clash against Chelsea, however, and suggested after the match that he was vindicated by the performance.
‘I knew what I was doing… to keep the game as close as it was showed the quality of our performance,’ he said.
‘We are disappointed with the results but there are many positives tonight. Some of the young players did very well.’
Nicol, however, was hugely critical of Rodgers’ remarks, suggesting he was playing the fans for fools and showed a lack of ambition by settling for a 1-0 defeat.
‘Brendan Rodgers needs to run for prime minster because I’m not sure who’s agreeing with anything he’s saying,’ he told ESPN FC.
‘Liverpool have won the European Cup five times. To go anywhere and lose 1-0 with a reserve team out is not on in my opinion.
‘And to then turn around and say it was a great performance… the man of the match was the goalkeeper [Simon Mignolet], so you couldn’t have been doing that well defensively.
‘In the second-half Real took their foot off the pedal to the point where they almost feel asleep, and you’re urging him to get someone like Balotelli on to see if you can nick something from the game.
‘Still, one shot on target? We’re talking about Liverpool football club here. We’re not talking about some second-rate team who have the right to be happy to lose 1-0.’