Liverpool looked comfortable at the half time break at the St Marys on Sunday with a two goal cushion but somehow managed to lose all three points thanks to a sizzling comeback from the home side who ran away with all three points.
Jurgen Klopp, who spoke about the defeat after the game declined to hold the players responsible for the loss and explained that the number of games his team have been playing was the reason behind the lack of concentration for the debacle in the second half.
But the fans and pundits alike were quick to criticize the German manager for his half time change that saw Martin Skrtel come on for Dejan Lovren.
Lovren was lucky not to concede an early penalty and then picked up a yellow card for a rash tackle, all in the first half and this saw the Croatian replaced by Martin Skrtel who was handed his first piece of action since he picked up an injury in December.
The 31-year old looked out of sorts straight away and gave away an early penalty in the second half which was not converted but also had a role to play in all the three goals that were shipped in by the Reds in that calamitous half.
However, the manager defended his decision of taking Lovren off and explained that the yellow card he picked up in the first half was the reason behind his substitution.
And when asked why he replaced Lovren, the Reds boss said: “His yellow card.”
Klopp went on to explain that the referee started taking fouls seriously and that he felt that it was not going to be easy for Lovren to keep calm and not pick up another yellow on the night.
“I thought at the end of the first half it looked like the ref was not completely any more free of the emotion in the stadium. Maybe this situation was not okay,” Klopp added.
Lovren and Long were involved in a battle right from the start of the game but the Croatian looked strong in the air and was superb with his interceptions.
However, with pressure mounting on the Reds, it was never going to be easy for the defender to stay on his feet and defend strongly when on a yellow.
The manager also acknowledged this and explained that it was going to be hard for him to defend confidently after picking up a yellow card.
“I thought we had to change this because it was clear that they will play a lot of long balls to Pelle and it’s not easy for a centre-half to challenge for these without a yellow card, especially when the ref changed a bit the mood,” Klopp said.
The German also spoke about the penalty incident in the first half involving Lovren who shoved Long in the back inside the box.
The referee did not see it as a penalty but Klopp was good enough to admit that it could have been a penalty but went on to defend his players.
“Okay, maybe it was a penalty – I don’t know.”
“It was not too good today for us today, obviously,” he added.’
Liverpool face Tottenham Hotspur in their next Premier League game after the international break.