A 3-1 defeat away to Swansea was probably not the way Jürgen Klopp wanted to set the table for a midweek clash with Villareal, but the Liverpool manager has never been one for crying over spilled milk. Addressing the media after the match, Klopp offered the usual "we'll learn and move on" speech, but also didn't shy away from talking about where things went wrong.
Unsurprisingly, Klopp was invited, during the press conference, to talk about the youth and inexperience of the starting lineup. The goal was clear. Bring on some fresh legs to do the hard running against a side looking to make top flight football a certainty, continue to acquaint the kids with the pace of the Premier League, and save some of the key players for the Europa League.
Given their schedule and their luck (or lack thereof) with injuries, this was not the first Liverpool side in recent history to feature a multitude of changes and youthful faces, but it was one of the more prominent occasions where everything failed to come together. Klopp was quick to point out that placing too much emphasis on the loss was probably as ill-advised as being overly enthused about the precociousness displayed in previous matches.
After Bournemouth, after Stoke, after these games, everybody said ‘oh my God, how good are these young players?’ They are good, but that is how it is – life as a professional football player is not always a honeymoon. You have to prove, you have to deliver. Today it did not work too well, but it is not a problem for the future, it is only a problem for today. A result or a game like this would only be completely senseless if you do not use the information for the future – and that’s what we will do for sure.
We played really well with different line-ups in the last few games. Today we didn’t. That’s less surprising than the good games we played, to be honest, with 10 changes or things like this.
That may not be the salve that Liverpool supporters were looking for after a dispiriting result, but as is usually the case with Klopp, there is more than a grain of common sense in his assessment. It does ask a tremendous amount of a side when there are that many changes. In other circumstances, a manager might be accused of setting his side up to fail. That Liverpool have, when fielding similar sides, been able to pull out results more often than they have been overrun is something of an encouraging sign.
When asked about specific performances from his young charges - in particular Pedro Chirivella, who was somewhat lost at sea on his full league debut - Klopp was equally willing to take the common sense, long-term perspective, focusing on the positives rather than on the (clearly) significant strides yet to be taken.
[Chirivella] is a wonderful player. He is a passing player and a big, big talent. Today he forgot to orientate himself a little bit – that’s usually his strength, knowing what’s around him. He is a really cool and calm with the ball, but today it was not a game for [this]. Usually it could have been a game [for it], but it’s only one game in his long, long football career, so that’s not a problem. For today, it was not too easy for him.
Liverpool supporters are not unaccustomed to being asked to take the good with the bad where young players are concerned. And despite the promise that some of those players have displayed in recent times, performances like these are can, and will, appear again. The goal is always long-term improvement, and more time is needed before the club can separate the Sterlings from the Susos. In the meantime, the senior players have the regroup and refocus for the Europa League.