Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said sorry to Xherdan Shaqiri after taking him off at half-time against Southampton, despite the Switzerland international playing such a pivotal role in their 3-0 victory at Anfield.
The 26-year-old, on his first start since a £12million summer move from Stoke, had a hand in the Reds’ first and third goals but still had to be sacrificed at the break because Klopp felt holes needed to be plugged and the result had to be protected.
“No it was not easy, to be honest. It’s my job to sometimes deliver news nobody wants to hear,” said the German on his withdrawal of Shaqiri.
“I said to Shaq at half-time that I’d never taken a player off at half-time after such an influential half.”
Klopp admitted the Reds still needed to work on how best to accommodate Shaqiri into their side and how to keep their defensive shape going forwards.
“He was not injured, but I wanted to control the game, go back to our normal formation, and that helped us,” he added.
“That’s how it was at half time, but he’s a fantastic boy so there was no problem. I explained it to him, usually I don’t explain substitutions but I thought today it made a bit of sense.
“I would have done the same if it had been 2-0. That was the plan. We saw that we had a few problems.”
Klopp changed his formation to 4-2-3-1 to accommodate Shaqiri in a number 10 role and it paid off with his deflected cross resulting in an own goal by Wesley Hoedt, with his free-kick cannoning down off the crossbar for Mohamed Salah to score from close range to make it 3-0 after Joel Matip had doubled his side’s lead.
Xherdan Shaqiri Liverpool
“It’s just good to have him. You saw the free-kick, it was outstanding. What a ball!” added Klopp.
“The whole team was not used to the system and as a new player usually you struggle most, but he didn’t. He tried everything, the only problem was defensive.
“Offensively, it was a good idea, but we have to work a bit more on that. He was good, I liked it.”
Klopp admitted that despite the margin of victory, Saints caused his side plenty of problems and said they should lie firmly at his doorstep.