• Champions League

Allen defends Rodgers' rotation at Real Madrid

ESPN staff
November 6, 2014
Rodgers 'not bothered' by selection criticism

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen has defended Brendan Rodgers' decision to rotate his squad against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Rodgers was criticised over his decision, with Match of the Day pundit Gary Lineker saying he had "thrown in the towel" with a selection "unbefitting of Liverpool". Some in the Spanish media also said Rodgers had belittled Liverpool's history by playing "reserve" players against last season's winners in their 1-0 defeat at the Bernabeu.

But Allen, who started in Madrid, believes the criticism is unfair with Liverpool facing a key match at home to Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime.

Asked whether he thought it was disrespectful to talk about Liverpool playing a "reserve" team in Madrid, Allen said: "Yes, I think it probably is.

"You sometimes can't win with a squad rotation policy, but with the added demands we have this season that has to be the way to do it. That is definitely going to get us results over the season."

Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Glen Johnson, Mario Balotelli, Jordan Henderson, Dejan Lovren and Philippe Coutinho were all dropped to the bench at the Bernabeu in the aftermath of Liverpool's disappointing 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday.

On Wednesday, UEFA president Michel Platini said Rodgers needed to explain his team selection to Liverpool's fans.

Champions League rules say that clubs must field their strongest sides but UEFA is not considering any action against Liverpool, with Platini pointing out that an apparently stronger Liverpool line-up lost 3-0 to the same opponents at Anfield.

Meanwhile, former Liverpool striker John Toshack believes the club's players are still suffering after narrowly missing out on the Premier League title to Manchester City last season.

"I still think there's a dark cloud hanging over Anfield from what happened," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"They went so close after being so long without winning that championship. I still think there's a bit of a hangover there. It's a bitter pill to swallow for them."

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