Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers defended his team selection for the Champions League loss at Real Madrid after being accused of “throwing in a white towel”.
“I didn’t see this as a big showcase game where I had to play the so-called names,” said Rodgers.
“It might have seemed a gamble but for me it wasn’t.”
When Liverpool’s team was announced, Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker 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.”
Rodgers responded: “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.”
Reports before the match suggested Rodgers would choose to leave Gerrard out in order to ensure he was at peak fitness for the visit of Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday. Liverpool have endured a difficult start to the season, and were beaten 1-0 at Newcastle on Saturday.