Jürgen Klopp has angrily denied that Liverpool’s defeat of Internazionale showed he would have an advantage with five substitutes in the Premier League, and insisted attitude was key to winning at San Siro.
The Liverpool manager’s 59th-minute introduction of Jordan Henderson, Luis Díaz and Naby Keïta helped turn the Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday. Roberto Firmino, a half-time replacement for the injured Diogo Jota, opened the scoring and James Milner was also introduced to help protect the eventual 2-0 lead. The demonstration of Liverpool’s strength in depth would not have been possible, Klopp insisted, without the determination of every player to fight against the Italian champions.
“The potential of the boys was not the key for the win at Inter, the key for it was the attitude we showed and the spirit we created on the pitch – that made the difference,” he said. “You have to fight and not think about how good we could be. We are not the Harlem Globetrotters. My opinion is clear: top squad, best I ever had, but it is more important what kind of mood is in the team because you don’t win a Champions League away game against Inter Milan because you are good. You win it because you want it with all you have and that’s what we did.”
Klopp has been a leading advocate of the five-substitutes rule being reintroduced to the Premier League, in line with other major European leagues, on the basis it would ease the increased demands on players. He therefore took exception to an online report that claimed the Inter game demonstrated a club with Liverpool’s resources would gain an advantage over other Premier League teams with five substitutions available.
“Honestly, for people to suggest it is an advantage tactically has nothing to do with it [his argument],” he said. “Absolutely nothing. It’s absolutely not true that it gives us an advantage. I can’t believe it is still discussed like this. It is the reason why in this country it is still not five subs. In pretty much all the other countries it is the case. It doesn’t make Bayern 20 points ahead of other teams or in Italy all of a sudden the better teams are running away with it. They are not. It is a very tight competition. In this country we hide behind the fact that: ‘It helps them, I can’t see how it helps us.’
“Look at Crystal Palace and the offensive players they have. They could change all three in each game. Five subs is a must-have for the future. It should be now already but at least for the future because we have to make sure we give the players opportunity to save energy. Because they cannot do it on the pitch we have to do it like this. Nobody thinks it’s an advantage from a tactical point of view. A few people think: ‘That’s why Klopp wants five subs, because he can bring these guys on.’ It has nothing to do with that.”