Southampton vs Liverpool: Adam Lallana merited a hero's welcome – not hostility, says Brendan Rodgers

Rickie Lambert, an unused substitute, was accorded a warm reception

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Brendan Rodgers launched a surprise attack today on the Southampton match-day programme for failing to acknowledge the contribution of Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to the club, ahead of their return with Liverpool who won the game 2-0.

The Liverpool manager acknowledged that the third Southampton player he signed last summer, Dejan Lovren had only been at the club a season before he left and might not be so deserving of a hero’s welcome.

As it turned out, Lovren, back in the side for the injured Mamadou Sakho, was roundly booed; the reception for Adam Lallana was hostile, albeit a little more mixed, and Rickie Lambert, an unused substitute, was accorded a warm reception.

Rodgers said: “I was a bit disappointed for him [Lallana]. He was captain here for two years, gave incredible service to Southampton and could have left a number of times and didn’t. To get the reception he did was disappointing.

“There was nothing in the match programme referencing his time here. No mention too for Lambert as well. Those two guys gave their heart and soul to Southampton and were big supporters of this club. They’ve moved to one of the biggest clubs in the world. This is a fantastic club, a club which had to go to League One to grow again. But those two guys were  wonderful servants.

“It was a massive decision for them to come to Liverpool and for everything they gave to this club? For former servants or players, there’s always some appreciation. But nothing here. For me that’s a wee bit sad. I don’t know if they noticed it.”

Asked about the improved defending of his team in an unbeaten run which stretches to 10 league games, Rodgers made a tart reference to the calls earlier in the season for him to seek help in that department. “It’s the new defensive coach we brought in which everyone thought we needed. That did the trick,” he said.

Southampton’s manager, Ronald Koeman, revealed, that he dropped Sadio Mané from the starting XI because the Senegal international reported late for the pre-match meal. The player came on as a substitute.

Koeman said: “He [Mané] was too late. He was 25-30 minutes too late for the pre-match meal. We have rules, instructions with the players. Everybody can be late one day in the morning, but you can’t be late at 1pm when you have to play against Liverpool.

“That explanation is between the player and the coach, but he was too late. I can’t and I don’t accept that. If he has to pay a fine, he pays the fine. But, in my opinion, the best way to keep the  discipline in the team is not to pick him.”

The Southampton manager refused to criticise Kevin Friend for his failure to give a penalty to Filip Djuricic in the first half for a foul by Joe Allen. “I think in every country there are always criticisms of referees. I don’t do that,” Koeman said. “It’s a difficult job what they have to do. The fourth referee can do much more than he does in England in the Premier League.

“He’s watching the game like the people in the stands. I think he can help much more the referee about decisions. And the technology, that’s a big help for referees in a difficult situation: not on penalties. But, finally, it’s a bit imbalance. A bit unlucky at that, that is all.”