Jurgen Klopp has been heavily criticised for his decision to start Fabio Carvalho when Liverpool hosted Brighton in the Premier League at the weekend.
Carvalho was handed his second league start for the Reds as they drew 3-3 with the Seagulls last Saturday, playing 45 minutes at Anfield before he was taken off at half-time, with the hosts 2-1 down. The 20-year-old’s inclusion in the line-up was surprising given his inexperience and the wealth of talent Klopp had in reserve.
Marquee summer signing Darwin Nunez was only handed a spot on the bench alongside Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz. The trio returned to Merseyside shortly before the Brighton fixture after representing their respective nations during the international break, with Klopp confirming Jota and Nunez came back carrying “little” injury concerns.
However, Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony claims this is no excuse for throwing Carvalho in at the deep end and accused the Liverpool manager of making the decision out of “arrogant” disregard for Brighton’s quality.
“He needs to take some of those players out the firing line,” MacAnthony said of Klopp on The Hard Truth podcast. “I’m watching on Saturday and I’m a Carvalho fan, he’s going to be a terrific player, but you’re playing Brighton; they are no mugs, they’re a good team.
“And you pick a front three of Carvalho, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. On the bench, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez – £200million-worth of strikers on the bench. Did you arrogantly think that you were just going to roll over Brighton? You didn’t need to do that with Carvalho. Don’t kill the kid. Take your time. Diaz should have been in, or Nunez has to be in.”
Diaz, Jota and Nunez were sent on in the second half as Liverpool came from behind to lead with less than 10 minutes remaining against Brighton. However, they had to settle for a point after Leandro Trossard completed his hat-trick with another fine finish at the back post.
Roberto Firmino was at the double for the Reds and Adam Webster scored an own-goal, with substitute Nunez unable to end his barren spell in front of goal in the league, which stretches back to the opening-weekend game against Fulham. MacAnthony suspects Fenway Sports Group chiefs will be growing increasingly concerned by how the big-money striker is being “handled” by Klopp and his staff.
He added: “If I’m the owner of Liverpool – and I’m not their [FSG] biggest fan – but let me tell you right now, if you spent £70million on Nunez, we’re not handling him right.” Nunez will have the chance to get back on the scoresheet as Liverpool travel to league-leaders Arsenal on Sunday.