Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he will not be handing out Premier League appearances “like Christmas presents” despite the title having been secured.
In their last two matches Harvey Elliott, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones have all been included in the matchday squad. Elliott and Williams (twice) have come off the bench, but the Reds boss said it was not a charitable decision.
“I don’t think these kind of questions will be asked to Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,” said Klopp. That was regarding the subject of the youngsters’ playing time.
“‘We are champions now and we should now bring the young boys in, give them a chance, let’s have a look’.
“So then we lose the games and everybody is going at us ‘You have lost focus, you aren’t doing this, you aren’t doing that’.
“They will not play now because I want to see them in a Premier League game.
“We don’t give Premier League games as Christmas presents. We cannot do that.
“Liverpool wants to win football games and to win football games the best players have to be on the pitch.
“If the young boys are part of these best players then they will be on the pitch.”
Liverpool will receive 40 winners’ medals from the Premier League. The only stipulation is that every player who has featured in five matches should receive one.
Currently 21 players are guaranteed to receive a medal, after that it is at the club’s discretion as to who gets a medal. Elliott, Williams and Jones (all two appearances) are next in line as players and then the backroom staff.
“They are so close, they are really good. And they are our future, 100 per cent. But they will not play now because I want to see them in a Premier League game,” added Klopp.
“The youngsters are really close, but we won’t give them Premier League matches just for fun.
“It’s not like giving Premier League appearances away like sweets.”
Liverpool players coping well with new status
Liverpool lost their first match as champions 4-0 to Manchester City, the team who they deposed, on Thursday night.
While the scoreline suggested a heavy defeat Klopp was confident his players are dealing well with their new title.
“If I wanted to read a book about it I don’t think there are a lot on the market: ‘How to deal with becoming champions on Thursday night and playing a week later one of, if not the best team in the world’,” said Klopp.
“They have nothing to lose, we have nothing to win. To deal with this situation is a challenge.
“We never were champions before and so far I think the boys did brilliant. That is not obvious in the result against City but obvious for me in their daily work.
“But it is not like everything is completely new; the new facts are clear and we will show we can deal with it.”