Liverpool fans ought to trust manager Jurgen Klopp’s team selections despite criticism emanating from some quarters, insists former Reds defender Nick Tanner.
Klopp’s side head into tonight’s game at Wolves with the opportunity to move - temporarily at least - four points clear at the summit of the Premier League.
And while some fans believe the German should be more adventurous with who he picks in the starting line-up, Tanner thinks that the Liverpool manager has been vindicated after leading the Reds to an unbeaten start and top spot.
“I think he’s getting to know now the players he can rely on. If you want somebody to do a job you send in the best men to start off with, some of the time the crowd don’t understand that. The vitriol against the midfield, and it’s your own players, Jurgen knows his best team,” Tanner told Ian Stone's Comedy Breakfast (weekdays 6.30am-10.30am).
Much of the dissatisfaction emerged on social media and was particularly pronounced before Liverpool’s game against Paris Saint-Germain in a Champions League group game last month.
Specifically, the combination of James Milner, captain Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum was strongly questioned with some labelling them an uninspiring triumvirate.
⚠️ Ex-#LFC defender @nicktanner799 has warned Jurgen Klopp's side they will face a tougher match than most expect against #WWFC tonight.— Love Sport Radio (@lovesportradio) December 21, 2018
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But Tanner insists that starting the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita is unrealistic, especially away from home, and is an approach that has helped lead to an improvement in Liverpool’s defensive record this term.
The 53-year-old, who played for Liverpool between 1988 and 1994, also insisted the Reds must be wary of the threat posed by a Wolves side that beat Chelsea and took points off Manchester City earlier in the season.
“It’s going to be a really difficult game tonight, I’d be absolutely amazed if he played Shaqiri and Keita and they came in the team away from home at Wolves,” Tanner added.
“He’ll play his tried and trusted three midfield players and people forget that they have still got those three attackers. They seem to think that we just play one up front and flood the midfield, but they don’t.
“They still play the attacking players and that’s what people need to realise. They are unbeaten but are still getting criticised by their own fans.”
Tanner’s incredulity is merited and frankly he has a point. Liverpool are enjoying their best ever start to a top-flight season and could even end 2018 at the top of the Premier League for the first time in a decade.
He also said: “The defence is sorted out, the midfield is there and if you had to pick the team to play in a Champions League final next week I am sure he would pick near enough the same team as he picked last year as they are the tried and tested ones in the team.”