Neil Jones has questioned the decision by Jurgen Klopp to play Alexis Mac Allister from the start in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolves on Saturday.
The 24-year-old maintained his record of starting every Premier League match for the Reds so far this season (Transfermarkt) but was substituted at half-time following a 45-minute display in which his unusually quiet display mirror that of the team as a whole.
The midfielder started at Molineux despite not long being back from playing two World Cup qualifiers in South America, a subject on which the manager was outspoken in Friday’s pre-match press conference, and Jones believes it was an incorrect call by the German.
In an exclusive column with EOTK Insider, the journalist wrote: “Alexis Mac Allister probably shouldn’t have started the game. It was a surprise to see him on the teamsheet given the way Jurgen Klopp had spoken about him on Friday being up on a mountain in Bolivia.
“Bolivia, by the way, is one of the toughest away’s in world football with the altitude, so it was a surprise to see him in the team.
“You can excuse him once you consider all the relevant factors, but he still played poorly and gave the ball away far too often in rotten positions. It was a poor performance and he was rightly taken off at half-time.”
Hindsight is 20/20 vision, so it’s easy to look back now and say that starting Mac Allister was a mistake, but we’re with Jones in thinking that this was one match where Klopp may have been better off omitting the Argentine from the initial line-up.
The 24-year-old had only just come back from a game at high altitude (in which he played 85 minutes) and a transatlantic journey to England, and it was notable that the other two Liverpool players who were in action in South America were on the bench on Saturday.
Luis Diaz (who replaced Mac Allister) and Darwin Nunez added a much-needed impetus for the Reds upon their introductions, with the manager getting it very much right by bringing on those two at half-time and in the 56th minute respectively.
The ex-Brighton man gave the ball away seven times against Wolves (Sofascore), sometimes in areas where his team were put under pressure immediately, exhibiting an uncharacteristic carelessness in possession.
He’s still a sublime midfielder, though, and we imagine that Klopp will have learned a lesson from his team selection at the weekend for when we play Everton next month for another Saturday 12:30 kick-off immediately after an international break.