Jurgen Klopp insists his decision to leave Jordan Henderson out of Liverpool’s team to face Watford had nothing to do with his reaction to being substituted at Old Trafford.
The incident that grabbed the headlines following the 0-0 draw with Manchester United was the fact Klopp made a big issue on the touchline when Henderson failed to shake his hand as he walked towards the dugout.
Klopp was giving instructions to Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge at the time Henderson – who had been one of Liverpool’s better performers – made his way from the pitch; he applauded the club’s travelling fans as his manager held out a hand.
Henderson was named as substitute for the 5-0 win over Watford on Wednesday but Klopp is adamant that decision had nothing to do with what had happened – and he says he specifically spoke to his captain to explain why he was not going to start.
‘They accept it – (but) I don’t think they are happy,’ said Klopp, when asked how his players react when they are told they are missing out. ‘Hendo played a lot of games this season then for a while had had an injury here and there.
‘Milly had the same, Gini had them, Naby, they all had their problems. The most important thing is how it will fit for the next opponent. That’s the first thing I think about. Then if more things than one could fit, then you start thinking about who may need a rest or whatever, or who is a little bit better in this or this.
‘Hendo has played a really good season. I told him. He looked like he was not happy, but completely OK. I don’t tell players before the game that they will not play. I don’t walk through the dressing room and say ‘you don’t play, you don’t play’. You see that on the training ground, and as a player of Liverpool you know that you don’t play all the games. It’s a normal situation.
‘But because of the stories after the United game, after my reaction, I thought it made sense to tell [Jordan] it has nothing to do with that, because it was nothing. That’s it.’
Liverpool face Everton on Sunday and Klopp has yet to decide whether he will stick with Wednesday’s starting XI or whether there will be more changes: one of those could be Roberto Firmino, who has recovered well from an ankle issue.
‘He was out there running yesterday but we have to see how he reacts,’ said Klopp. I will see him now in a few minutes, first time since yesterday. He was very positive, but that’s Bobby’s nature!
‘We have to see. I don’t see any other player being in contention for that game after the little problem he had. It looks really good, but if he will be ready for tomorrow, I don’t know.’