Jürgen Klopp says his second-string Liverpool side "made sense" against West Brom

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp batted away any criticism of his side's understrength line-up for the trip to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday afternoon for their final league game of the season, insisting it "made sense" to make 11 changes.

Jürgen Klopp says his second-string Liverpool side "made sense" against West Brom
(Picture: Getty Images)

Jürgen Klopp defiantly defended his team selection after Liverpool's shadow side drew 1-1 away at West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the 2015-16 Premier League season on Sunday.

With the Reds looking towards a Europa League final against Sevilla in Basel next week, Klopp made 11 changes as he rested the entire team expected to play in the final. 

Amongst those to return were third-choice goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, making his first appearance since December, while the likes of Lucas Leiva, Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan and Christian Benteke made up the more experienced members of the side.

Elsewhere, Cameron Brannagan and Sergi Canos made their senior debuts from the start and off the bench with Simon Mignolet the only regular first-team starter present in the matchday squad as he watched from the substitutes' bench. In addition, Danny Ings and Jordan Henderson also both made their returns from lengthy injuries. 

The rest of Klopp's side stayed behind at Melwood for a morning training session as Jordon Ibe's stunning solo run and strike earning Liverpool a point after Salomon Rondon had opened the scoring to leave the visitors eight in the league table, outside the European places and equalling their lowest finish in the top-flight since being promoted in 1962.

I fielded the team I thought was best for this game, insists Klopp

But Klopp, speaking afterwards, had no regrets about his decisions as he explained that his changes "made sense" because it was "absolutely clear" that they could not afford to play "with 50 per cent concentration" at the Hawthorns.

Ibe celebrates levelling the scores before the half-hour mark. (Picture: Getty Images)
Ibe celebrates levelling the scores before the half-hour mark. (Picture: Getty Images)

He said it would have been "quite difficult" for those who were left back on Merseyside with the final looming large and this being a "really intensive game." Klopp insisted that it was "clear" it would be "quite intensive" from the outset because of West Brom's combative style-of-play and declared himself "really pleased for the boys and how they did" after a second-string line-up.

The German declared that he fielded his "strongest side" and insisted that their problem would have been "if we'd come with other players and they are already with their minds on the next game." He insisted that he would look "silly" if he didn't come with the right players, but said: "I brought the best line-up here today that I thought was the best for this game."

The Reds boss admitted their pre-match game plan was to ensure they didn't concede too many set-pieces as he explained that they "knew about their [West Brom's] quality" and that his own line-up was "not tall enough" or "experienced enough in these situations" were they to concede a number of corners and free-kicks. 

He explained that their idea was "to keep the ball as long as possible" and admitted that for such a young side it was "a real challenge for them." However, Klopp felt that they "did good" and "did really well" although he acknowledge West Brom's "really nice goal" for which they "could have obviously defended better."

"But we struck back, it was good," the enthusiastic manager bounced back, praising his team for only giving away "a few set-pieces" and saying "there were no real chances" for the home side. "I think we deserved this point," he continued. "And it's absolutely OK for us."

Reds boss pleased with young side's passing despite admitting they could have won the game

The Reds clap the travelling supporters at the Smethwick End after full-time. (Picture: Getty Images)
The Reds clap the travelling supporters at the Smethwick End after full-time. (Picture: Getty Images)

Despite the positives, Klopp believes there was room for improvement. Despite acknowledging Ibe's terrific solo strike as "a nice goal" he said that they could have had more one-on-one and counter-attacking situations "like this a little bit more often."

He praised his side for the way that they "passed the ball very often, very good" and added: "Quick and simple - how it should be." Klopp was also pleased with how his team "created spaces" and "accelerated in the right moment" so that they could "use the space you created by your passing game." 

For the goal, Klopp believes Ibe "did it perfectly" and referred to another situation in which young midfielder Brannagan did similarly but said his shot "was not too good" in that particular moment when "he could have scored." He admitted it was "clear" they wouldn't be allowd "10 or 15 opportunities for scoring goals" but said they did enough "to deserve a point" and called it "a deserved point" although he said the Reds "could have won."