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Liverpool learn the lesson they've been avoiding all season

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Never apologise as a manager. It's rule number one (well, maybe like eight or nine) in the handbook of great leaders through time. To apologise shows fallibility and opens one up to all manner of waiting prey. He would have had much more pressing matters to attend to at full-time last night, but Jürgen Klopp could have done a lot worse than reminding himself of that very rule, should he have taken the time to do so.

In truth, there was much he could, and maybe should, have held his hands up for. The obvious Naby Keïta selection went horribly wrong, as did Diogo Jota from the start, it's fair to say. Further, whatever his instruction was, it was clear it didn't get carried out— whether that particular element was on him and his coaches remains an in-house mystery.

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What should be said is that Real Madrid were excellent. They were studious and set traps for Liverpool all over the pitch which they wilfully fell into. There remains a lot of nous about Madrid which somehow, after all that has passed since Kyiv in 2018, makes Liverpool look incomprehensibly novice.

To that end — and with the benefit of me sitting here with all the hindsight in the world attached— it becomes more baffling that Roberto Firmino and ThiagoAlcântara were both left out from the beginning of the game. Liverpool needed ball retention, more pertinently they needed players who weren't going to treat it like something they couldn't wait to get rid of in any way possible.

For all the talk this season that Firmino is on the wane, or that Thiago isn't suited or indeed that someone like Jota needs to start every game he plays, the most positive lesson of all last night is that such assertions are in fact far from as terminal as they're described. Like all great teams, Liverpool need as many options as possible, it's then up to the manager to use the best ones.

Klopp got it wrong last night, he used the wrong tools for this particular job and has the chance to atone next week. As a wider lesson, it's a reminder that players like Firmino are as valuable as they've ever been, it's now more about how and when we use them to ensure the best version emanates. One thing is for certain, even if the manager knows he got it wrong, he won't apologise, and nor should he.

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