Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised the impact of “really clever” defender Jon Flanagan, who made his first Premier League start for over a year in the 3-0 win over Manchester City at Anfield.
After losing out in the Capital One Cup final to Manchester City only three days before the Premier League tie, Liverpool got their revenge with a comprehensive win that moves them within six points of the top four.
Klopp was full of praise for his team after the win, especially for the returning Flanagan, who has endured a 20-month spell on the sidelines through injury.
Flanagan made an instant mark on the match with a crunching tackle on City forward Raheem Sterling, who failed to perform on his first return to Anfield since his £49million summer move to the Etihad Stadium.
Klopp praised the “really clever” Flanagan, but admitted that he needs to be careful with the defender having only just returned from a lengthy absence.
“After 20-something months out he played so smart and so clever,” said Klopp.
“In the first half he showed his opponent (Sterling) ‘maybe we were friends a few months ago but not for tonight’.
“In the second half he saved energy by not going forward as much and was really clever.
“When we’ve spoken about Flanno, we talk about 20 months, not about quality. But now we need to see what we can do with him.
“The Premier League is about Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday, Wednesday so we will have to think about this.”
“That’s why we have to judge the intensity a little bit. That’s all.
Klopp also praised the “outstanding” Adam Lallana, who opened the scoring with a long-range drive and also played a part in goals from James Milner and Roberto Firmino.
“It was a surprise,” said Klopp of Lallana’s goal.
“He doesn’t shoot too often, but if you aren’t satisfied with your scoring record then the first thing you do is shoot more often.
“In that situation he’d usually pass, so for him to shoot, it was a surprise.
“In the first half he was a bit (below his level) but in the second half it looked like the first half was just warming up.
“He really was outstanding. But there were so many brilliant individual performances.”
Liverpool are now only six points behind fourth-placed City, and Klopp has called on his players to “stay angry” in the closing stage of the season.
“We have to stay angry and strike back in each game,” said the German. “We have only two tournaments left. Losing the final was rubbish but to be in just two tournaments is good news.”