Jurgen Klopp has backed his decision to leave want-away star Philippe Coutinho out of Liverpool's squad against Manchester City.
Klopp's Reds went on to lose the game 5-0, but were only a goal behind and well in the game when Sadio Mane was sent off for booting City goalkeeper Ederson in the face while challenging for the ball.
Mohamed Salah had their best chance, going one-on-one with the Brazilian goalkeeper but wasn't able to find a way past him, shortly before Ederson was stretchered off.
Sergio Aguero gave the home side the lead, scoring for the sixth home game in a row against Liverpool, before braces from Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane secured a thumping victory.
It would be almost impossible to suggest, though, that the result would've happened without Mane receiving his marching orders.
Klopp was adamant that it wasn't an error leaving Coutinho out of the match, and that he would've struggled to have any impact on the outcome.
"“I’m not sure it’s quite that easy, but if it is that easy – if we bring him in and then everything is great again – then that's cool,” Klopp commented.
“With Phil, we didn’t always create more chances against City in the past. Yes, we scored more often in some games. But this was the decision we took [to leave him out].
“If people blame me for this, no problem, but it was a decision taken for the season. He came back after a long flight, after three weeks without playing.
“We have matches next Wednesday, next Saturday - we play, play, play, so we thought ‘Let’s give him three or four days’ proper training – and then he’s available for us’.”
Klopp was however left ruing what could turn out to be one of the most costly mistakes during his Anfield reign.
The German didn't add a key central defender to his ranks, having missed out on Virgil van Dijk following a tapping up row.
And Liverpool were blitzed through the middle several times, notably for Aguero's first and Jesus' second, while Ragnar Klavan looked like bambi on ice as he started in place of Dejan Lovren.
After the game, the former Borussia Dortmund boss admitted he was far from happy with his defence.
“We were never compact enough. To defend, we needed to be compact to cause them more problems. I was not happy with that.
“Can we play better? Yes, for sure. Things like this happen. It’s really bad, and we have to take the blame for everything that we saw.
"A couple of weeks ago [beating Arsenal 4-0] we got all the credit. This time we have to take the not-so-nice part, which is criticism. But we know about it.”
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