Brendan Rodgers has hit back at Gary Lineker, after the former England striker criticised the Liverpool manager’s team selection in the Bernabeu.
With the Reds deemed unlikely to get a result against a Real Madrid side which beat them comfortably at Anfield a fortnight ago, and with the Premier League clash against Chelsea on the horizon, Rodgers decided to make a number of changes to what many would call his strongest XI. Captain Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren were amongst those to miss out.
One of the theories for these decisions is that Liverpool can still qualify for the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League if they win their last two fixtures, against FC Basle and Ludogorets, although this would depend on Real also beating both sides and the Merseyside club defeating the Swiss outfit by two clear goals. It has also been argued that Rodgers had every right to ring the changes following recent poor performances, including a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United on Saturday.
As it turned out the Reds produced a reasonable enough performance against the European champions, although they lost 1-0. However, posting on his twitter account, Lineker claimed the decision to rest their so-called better players was “unbefitting of a club of Liverpool’s stature.” Rodgers has been made aware of these comments, and it didn’t take him long to respond to the former Leicester City, Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur star, now the respected frontman of Match of the Day.
“Lineker has never been a manager so he perhaps does not understand what it’s like to have to pick a team,” he said. “I respect his opinion but I thought the performance spoke for itself. All the players understood the decision. They are top professionals. I am very fortunate with the players I have. And for me the name is irrelevant. It’s not about the big names, it’s about the performance.
“I spoke to Steven weeks ago about my plans for the next few games. He understood the decision tonight. The players understood. Tonight gives me great food for thought. And all those who did not play tonight, that does not mean they will play against Chelsea. I go with my gut feeling and my gut feeling was after the match against Newcastle this was the side for this game.”
Lineker, meanwhile, obviously read about Rodgers’ response to his tweet this morning, when he posted: “Ah, the old ‘he’s never been a manager’ line. Funny they never use that one when you’re being complimentary.” And, minutes later, was happy to Retweet a comment from @BeardedGenius, who stated: “A bit like saying Rodgers shouldn’t manage Premier League players simply because he wasn’t one.” Match of the Day on Saturday could be an interesting one…