Tony Cascarino believes that one Liverpool player looked jaded and jetlagged in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Wolves.
The Reds had to come from behind to claim the three points after a lethargic first-half display, one which prompted Jurgen Klopp to withdraw Alexis Mac Allister during the interval.
The £150,000-per-week midfielder (Capology) was perhaps a surprise starter after he’d not long returned from playing two World Cup qualifiers in South America, and the manager’s decision to start him ultimately backfired.
Speaking on The Game Football Podcast, Cascarino was critical of the Argentine’s performance and felt that his half-time subsitution was inevitable.
The ex-Chelsea striker said: “Mac Allister, he clearly had jetlag. I spoke about Casemiro and how he had jetlag. Mac Allister looked like he had a parachute on his back. He kept giving away the ball.
“If you’re going to give the ball away in that position as the last man you’re in trouble. That’s why he came off immediately at half-time. Klopp thought he couldn’t leave him on because he didn’t have the legs to get around.”
Mac Allister started both of Argentina’s games during the international break, featuring for 162 out of 180 minutes of normal time across their wins over Ecuador and Bolivia (Transfermarkt), the latter of which was played at high altitude roughly three-and-a-half days before kick-off at Molineux.
It’s only natural that he may have felt less than 100% ready for the match against Wolves and, despite the 24-year-old enjoying a positive start to his Liverpool career, it would’ve been logical for Klopp to take him out of the starting XI on Saturday, as he did with Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez.
The statistics from that game don’t portray the Argentine’s performance in a terrible light – his passing success rate was actually higher than the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, Mo Salah, Cody Gakpo, Diaz and Harvey Elliott (Sofascore).
However, the eye test would tell you that Mac Allister looked well below his sharpest and, while he only lost possession seven times (Sofascore), some of those occurred in dangerous area of the pitch and instantly put the Reds under pressure.
His half-time withdrawal was ultimately the right decision as his replacement Diaz injected a much-needed spark into the side, but once the World Cup winner has a few days to recuperate this week, we’re sure he’ll be back to his efficient best when he next plays.