Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said it was difficult to substitute Xherdan Shaqiri at half-time after the Swiss international had been influential in helping his team to a 3-0 half-time lead over Southampton at Anfield.
Making his first start since a £12 million summer move from Stoke, Shaqiri was involved in Liverpool’s first and third goals, but was taken off at the break as the Anfield boss made a tactical change.
“No it was not easy, to be honest. It’s my job to sometimes deliver news nobody wants to hear,” said Klopp.
“I said to Shaq at half-time that I’d never taken a player off at half-time after such an influential half.
“He was not injured, but I wanted to control the game, go back to our normal formation, and that helped us.
“That’s how it was at half time, but he’s a fantastic boy so there was no problem. I explained it to him, usually I don’t explain substitutions but I thought today it made a bit of sense.
“I would have done the same if it had been 2-0. That was the plan. We saw that we had a few problems.”
Klopp started with a 4-2-3-1 featuring Shaqiri in a number 10 role and the switch worked well, as the Swiss star’s cross resulted in an own goal by Wesley Hoedt, before Mo Salah tapped in the third after his free-kick bounced down off the crossbar.
Shaqiri hits the crossbar from a brilliant freekick and Salah follows up with a well needed goal for his confidence. pic.twitter.com/KHocOLpHa6
— Samue (@VintageSalah) September 22, 2018
“It’s just good to have him. You saw the free-kick, it was outstanding. What a ball!” added Klopp.
“The whole team was not used to the system and as a new player usually you struggle most, but he didn’t. He tried everything, the only problem was defensive.
“Offensively, it was a good idea, but we have to work a bit more on that.”
Klopp, meanwhile, said that Virgil van Dijk was taken off on the hour as a precaution after he took a blow to the ribs that aggravated an earlier injury.
The German said he would probably be fit for next week’s Premier League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“He had already, before the PSG game, kind of a bruised rib, which is very uncomfortable, and he got another hit there,” said Klopp.
“It’s not cool, but should not be too serious. He said he couldn’t shout any more, so that’s obviously 60 per cent less of his level.
“He should be absolutely OK, hopefully. I didn’t hear anything different.”