It all began with the League Cup. Sides like Liverpool began fielding weakened teams in games, all in the name of “squad rotation.”
Now we see the same attitude applied to the oldest domestic cup competition in the game.
Jurgen Klopp was unimpressed by his team’s performance against Shrewsbury Town. Despite this, the Liverpool manager has confirmed that developmental coach Neil Critchley will be on the touchline for the game.
We will not be there, and it will be the kids. I know that is not very popular.
Klopp has pointed to a letter he received from the English FA as the reason neither he nor his first-team players will take part in the FA Cup replay .
In April 2019, we got a letter from the Premier League where they asked us to respect the winter break and not to organize international friendlies or competitive games. We respect that.
I think it’s fair to say that the Liverpool manager is being rather clever here. Maybe too clever by half.
The Premier League urging clubs not to arrange glamour friendlies during the winter break most likely didn’t apply to replays in one of the most important domestic cup competitions in the world.
Reports are that the FA are both “surprised and disappointed” in Klopp’s comments. It’s believed that clubs had been made aware that a winter break could be affected if fourth-round FA Cup replays were needed.
If Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players are so concerned about getting time to rest up and enjoy a winter break in warm climes, they should have worked a little harder to beat their League One opposition the first time around.
Going into the final half-hour of the game, Liverpool were coasting 2-0. The game was all but over. Until Jason Cummings decided to score a brace and thoroughly embarrass the current Premier League leaders.
If I were Klopp, I’d already be cutting any winter holidays short to make those players play in the replay. Maybe instead of pampering them, he should make it clear that when fans pay their hard-earned money and travel almost 140 miles return journey, they deserve a performance.
Shrewsbury boss Sam Ricketts struck a diplomatic tone when questioned about Liverpool and Klopp’s intentions.
This was our cup final, and we will have another one at Anfield, whereas for Liverpool, it’s just another day.
Ricketts will secretly be over the moon that Liverpool will field a youth team led by their development coach.
The Anfield side did the same thing in the League Cup against Aston Villa and was drubbed 5-0. Shrewsbury, considering their remarkable comeback at the weekend, will be quietly confident of staging an upset.
As for Liverpool? I wouldn’t blame their fans for choosing to give the game a miss. Which is a shame, as this is the FA Cup. That used to mean something, once upon a time.