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Brendan Rodgers Rejects Criticism of Jürgen Klopp

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The former Reds’ boss spoke out in support of his Anfield successor while also revealing his own struggles to integrate Daniel Sturridge.

Celtic v Heart of Midlothian - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The second consecutive January dip in form has seen the German manager come in for predictably rash backlash in the press for everything from his refusal to make hasty transfers to his rigorous training methods and even debates over his level of respect for English domestic cups. However, his predecessor Brendan Rogers, currently boss at Celtic, has publicly defended his embattled Liverpool counterpart after his old side’s loss to Wolverhampton Wolves at the weekend dumped them out the FA Cup, making the valid point that the boo boys will always find something to complain about:

“I look at Jürgen Klopp and of course Wolves played very well, but there is a contradiction there,” said Rodgers, speaking in a podcast interview.

“People want young players to play and when they do play, there is an issue. It is never nice when you lose a game but Jurgen has went and played four or five British players and given them a chance.

"He is hoping they can go and win a game at Anfield against a Championship team with experienced players around them. It never worked out like that because Wolves played very well but the narrative changes for a manager every single day. You are either very good or very bad - you are never just a good manager who has maybe given players an opportunity and a chance.

"Ultimately, you are judged on games you win and lose, but sometimes in the modern day it is very difficult as a manager."

The Ulsterman—often affectionately referred to as ‘Bodgers’ by some among the Anfield faithful for parts of his time at Liverpool—went on to shed light on the issues he had finding a place for Daniel Sturridge in his gameplan due to the liability the mercurial forward often represented in the pressing game, even during the magical 2013/14 season that saw the 27-year old bag a career-best 21 goals:

“Daniel will always get goals, he has that quality, but it’s about trying to fit it into the way your team works. That wasn’t easy to do when I was at Liverpool. We always had to find a way to fit him in the team.

“Sometimes he was out wide with Luis Suarez central and other games he was central and Luis was wide.

“There was always a conundrum there because you want to be aggressive and press the game and there are certain areas of the pitch where you always have to look—if Daniel is in the team—where you can and can’t press.”

The 2016/17 campaign has seen the accumulation of injuries finally begin to take their toll on the Englishman’s ability to consistently contribute even in the attacking end of the pitch. There has subsequently been frustration all around as Klopp has found himself without a reliable option off the bench when unable to pick his first XI, while Sturridge has been notably unsatisfied with both his minutes and his role in the team, as a near inevitable parting of ways looms in the summer.

“There is no doubting his goalscoring ability,” Rodgers went on. “But a No 9 in the modern game now has to give more than that.

“I brought him into the club because I wanted to build a team that was fast, dynamic, unpredictable, had power and pace and Daniel gave us all of that. He joined us in the January and for the next 18 months he was incredible.

“He has the talent to be one of the best players and strikers in the world, but the best players in the world are available. You look at Suarez, Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo - they play games.

“They are churning out 50, 60 games a season, plus international games, so you have to be available. If he is available and he is fighting and pressing and running, everything else comes natural to him.”