Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling were DROPPED for Liverpool’s last trip to Real Madrid as Brendan Rodgers’ experimental line-up led to Reds legend leaving

We can’t see Jurgen Klopp trying something like this when Liverpool take on Real Madrid tonight, LIVE on talkSPORT.

Brendan Rodgers was accused of ‘throwing in the white towel’ as he named a bold starting XI for Liverpool’s last trip away to Real Madrid.

Rodgers benched captain Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson in the Spanish capitial

The then-Reds boss shocked everyone as he dropped Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Glen Johnson for their Champions League clash at the Bernabeu in November 2014.

Ahead of those players, who almost helped Liverpool win a first ever Premier League title just months before, Rodgers opted to play Lazar Markovic, Fabio Borini, Kolo Toure, Javi Manquillo and Alberto Moreno…

Before the match, Gary Linker, who coined the ‘throwing in the white towel’ phrase, said: “Rodgers has left out [Jordan] Henderson, Sterling, [Mario] Balotelli, Gerrard and [Philippe] Coutinho at Real Madrid. He has, though, thrown in a white towel.

“Selecting a weakened side in Europe’s premier competition, especially against Real Madrid, is unbefitting of a club of Liverpool’s stature. If I were one of Liverpool’s star players, I’d be choked to be left out of a game at the Bernabeu against the European champions.”

Liverpool came up against a Real Madrid side featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos
And this was the Liverpool team given the task of getting points off the European champions
This is how the surprise Liverpool XI set-up at the Bernabeu

Real Madrid’s star-studded team unsurprisingly dominated the match but the Liverpool players selected gave a good account of themselves as they were only beaten 1-0, Karim Benzema’s close-range effort all that separated the two sides.

In response to Lineker’s pre-match criticism, Rodgers said: “I think the performance says the words.

“Gary is a figure who I respect and was a top player in his day but he’s never been a manager, so he has never truly understood what it is like in terms of picking players.

“I respect his opinion but I think the words were played out by my team. The performance was far from throwing the white towel in. Right to the very end my players put in a performance befitting of the wonderful club this is. That would be my answer.

Benzema put Real Madrid in front on 27 minutes
But that was the only goal scored, although Real Madrid had many other chances

“I didn’t rest players for Saturday [Premier League clash against Chelsea]. I picked a team that I thought could get a result. The players that came in were excellent and we were unfortunate not to get a result.”

After hearing Rodgers’s response, Lineker tweeted: “Rodgers intimating that many of his players were dropped for being awful at Newcastle [the previous weekend] rather than being rested. If that’s true, fair enough.”

It wasn’t fair enough in the eyes of Gerrard though, the former Liverpool captain leaving Anfield six months later.

He, as well as Sterling and Coutinho, came on in the second half as Liverpool searched for an equaliser but Gerrard later admitted this snub triggered his exit from the club he was with since he was a boy.

Rodgers insisted his team selections were justified

Gerrard said: “This was round about the time when I was doing a lot of thinking about what’s next for me.

“I’d had a couple of initial chats with Brendan saying to me ‘I’m going to start managing your games and I have to look after you and I want you to be fresh and I don’t want you to be playing three games in a week because you may be tired.’

“But this situation was a bit unique because it was Real Madrid and I wanted to play.

“When I was told I wasn’t playing for the sake of the team and the squad and my relationship with Brendan, I took it and I accepted it.

Gerrard came on in the 69th minute but being dropped led to the decline of his relationship with Rodgers

“But I sat on that bench devastated because I wanted to play so, it is one of those situations.

“It sort of pushed me making a decision to move on and try something different.”

Source: Sport

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