28 Feb 2016

Bottlers? Jurgen Klopp explains why £52m Liverpool-duo missed penalty shootout. Confirms Sturridge 'couldn't walk'

During Liverpool's ill-fated penalty shootout against Manchester City, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan henderson were conspicuously absent from the club's list of penalty takers, and both are now being accused (by some fans) of 'bottling' the shootout. That, of course, is nonsense, and after the game, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp explained the thinking behind his penalty taker selection.

When asked about Sturridge, Klopp told reporters:

”Sturridge had no chance for penalties, had cramps and couldn’t walk".

After a long period out injured, Sturridge clearly isn't used to playing 120 minutes straight, so his tiredness is understandable, and totally expected. If, as Klopp claims, Sturridge 'couldn't walk', then he obviously shouldn't have been on the penalty taker's list (!)

On the subject of Henderson, Klopp added:

"We asked these five players and they said yes."

I don't for one second believe that Henderson bottled it.

* It's possible that Can, Lucas, Lallana, Coutinho, and Milner were the first five players asked by Klopp to take a penalty. Once they'd accepted, I doubt they'd then back out just to let Henderson take over (that would be seen as 'bottling').

* As confirmed many times by Klopp, Henderson is still suffering from pain associated with his recent heel injury, and after 120 minutes of hard graft, it's probable that he was feeling the pain.

* As such, Henderson (or Klopp) made the right decision to sit out the penalty shootout. The team comes first, and a player with a painful heel injury should not (IMO) be taking a penalty.

Hendo may not be the greatest captain, and his current form is middling, but one thing he is *not* is a shirker. If he sat out the shootout, then he did so (IMO) for the good of the team.

One a related note: As expected, Raheem Sterling didn't step-up to take a penalty for Man City, and he probably did bottle it. Last season, Liverpool lost to Besiktas on penalties in the Europa League, and despite the absence of Balotelli, Gerrard, Sturridge, and Coutinho, Sterling stayed in the shadows during the shootout.

Given his abject finishing, though, it's probably just as well.

* Hendo: £27m-rated. Sturridge: £25m-rated

Author: Jaimie K


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