Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has opened up about his decision to substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at half-time in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.
The Reds edged out Chelsea, winning 5-4 on penalties after the game had ended 2-2. Olivier Giroud gave the Blues the lead, leaving Liverpool trailing going into the break. Klopp acted fast and brought on Roberto Firmino at the interval, replacing Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The substitution ultimately paid dividends, with Firmino setting up Sadio Mane for the equaliser. The Brazilian put in a strong performance, bringing another dimension to Liverpool's attack and making them more of a threat.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was the man to be sacrificed, and Klopp has shed some light on his decision. He revealed in his post-match media conference, per the Sport Review: “I didn’t say a lot to Ox [at half-time], I don’t think it was necessary.
“For Ox it was very important to have these minutes, it’s a position he can play. He can play much better than he did tonight (Wednesday) but that’s how it is and after a long injury you have to find back the rhythm."
Oxlade-Chamberlain was out for 12 months with a serious knee injury, and a starting berth in the Super Cup represented a major milestone in his recovery. However, Klopp recognised the difficulty in achieving match sharpness after a long time out, and alluded to the long road to recovery for the Englishman.
He added: “In training it’s already there and now in the game he had good moments but of course not enough for his quality.
“It was not about that, I knew it was a very, very intense game so it was clear that we have to make that decision because we didn’t want to push him through, we want to give him the opportunity to perform, to shine if you want.
“In that position and the circumstances it was obviously not as possible as we would have wished, but that’s then my mistake and not his mistake because I made the decision.”