Klopp's stance on FA Cup replay is right, but let's cut the excuses

Klopp's stance on FA Cup replay is right, but let's cut the excuses

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp caused an outcry amongst the British media and many football fanbases by turning his disdain for domestic cup competitions up to eleven, in the aftermath of the Reds’ 2-2 draw against Shropshire outfit Shrewsbury Town.

Suggesting that the Premier League’s winter break had offered him the foresight to give his first team a week’s holiday around the date that the replay will be played, the German manager explained to the media that even he wouldn’t be at Anfield to see who progresses to the fifth round, let alone his first team players.

Klopp’s lack of passion for progressing in the domestic cups is hardly a new thing. Since arriving at Liverpool he’s overseen just one run to a domestic cup final, the Capital One Cup in 2015/16, and hasn’t progressed past the FA Cup fourth round. Despite often bemoaning the hectic schedule English football has to offer and ringing the changes when cup ties come around, he’s never gone as far as to miss a match completely.

So what’s different this time, and does it warrant such a reaction?

Fixture build-up is insane, but Liverpool could put a team out

Discounting the Community Shield, Liverpool’s win over West Ham in midweek saw them reach 38 competitive fixtures already this season, despite January (somehow) not yet being over. If they’d gone further and reached the League Cup final, that total would stand at 40 right now.

Eagerly anticipating the new winter break (if you can call it that) that the Premier League have injected after years of top managers crying for it, Klopp will, in partnership with his sports scientists, have planned accordingly.

In the knowledge, albeit well after the winter break was announced, that an FA Cup fourth round replay would impede this particular spot in his fixture schedule, Klopp may well have been planning to send the kids out in this eventuality for months. Would it have made a difference if he, himself, had made public his plans in advance? Probably not. You’re going to get a reaction, whether real or just for clicks, regardless.

Many Liverpool fans, discounting Anfield Index’s Tom Holmes, have come out in support of Klopp. Why not back a man that’s fucked off the domestic cups, delivering a European Cup and a 19 point gap at the top of the league in the process?

“We play too many games already, Klopp can’t put a team out!” they cry, in an attempt to defend the policy.

Yes, fair enough, Liverpool do play too many games. Being honest, everyone does. However, the idea that Liverpool can’t put a strong team out is ridiculous.

Adrian, Matip, Lovren, Lallana, Shaqiri and Minamino are just a selection of ‘big’ names unlikely to feature in the weekend’s league game against Southampton, and they may well be of the opinion that they’d rather play against Shrewsbury in a bid for form and fitness, and then take a few days holiday, rather than have the entire week off as is planned.

It’s not can/can’t. It’s should/shouldn’t.

Get behind Klopp, but for the right reasons

Honestly, I agree with Klopp. His tirade against the fixture list has reached a crescendo and I’m there behind him, pitchfork at the ready.

Fans suggesting that it would be impossible, over even season endangering, for Liverpool to stick a decent team out are wrong and those excuses need to stop. The Reds are 19 points clear and walking to the title, with a handful of players needing game time and no game after Shrewsbury for well over a week.

However, the supporters are right to back the manager.

Klopp’s decision making process has taken Liverpool from languishing outside the Champions League places to being the best team in world football. He’s one of the most widely respected brains in the footballing community, and you’d struggle to find a handful of managers more knowledgeable than him regarding sports science and the impact of too much football on players.

Sure, Liverpool could put a decent team out on Tuesday, but that’s only within the context of this match, this week. Klopp’s thinking surrounds a broader, more long-term, vision. Finding room for a winter break through one organisation, the Premier League, only to have it contradicted by another, the FA, is a step forward only to be pushed right back.

Whilst the two organisations work together on a number of things, namely suspensions, the lack of collaboration regarding putting a proper fixture list together boggles the mind, especially as the FA Cup continues to be discredited year after year.

Of course it’s a famous trophy and there’s a lot of romanticism that goes with it, but as the financial disparity between the top echelons of the Premier League and winning the FA Cup widen, the finances begin to take priority when decisions are made regarding squad utilisation.

Sure, you feel sorry for the lower league clubs who might feel their big day out is spoiled a little by playing Liverpool’s U23 team, but you only have to see the reaction of Accrington Stanley’s chairman in recent days to realise that really, it’s all about the money for them too.

Football is a greedy, capitalist, dog-eat-dog world. Whether that’s right or wrong is another matter, but if the authorities want Klopp to start taking every competition seriously, they need to start taking the demands of the players and managers seriously.

There’s too much football, Klopp is right to take a stand. Okay, not even managing the team could be considered petty, but he deserves a break too.

Plus, Neil Critchley has much more experience of managing the group of players that will take to the field against Shrewsbury, logically giving Liverpool a better chance of victory. And according to every middle aged man on the internet, Liverpool should be desperate to win… right?

Comments

One response to “Klopp’s stance on FA Cup replay is right, but let’s cut the excuses”

  1. satyromaniaman says:

    I agree fully with the article and would like to add on.

    It is definitely not a case of can or can’t. The should and shouldn’t is important as these form the core values in which the LFC team can live by.
    To simply ignore the “should” and to put out a “team” based on minutes required to gain fitness and rhythm just because one “can”, smacks of disrespect to other players in the WHOLE lfc set up AND the Shrewsbury players themselves.
    The kids have been entrusted to get the job done at Anfield. There are reasons in which we would support the move, not least because it is at Anfield where the kids get to play at a better ground and at a level where their football is expected to have more effect on the game.
    Yes, nothing is guaranteed and the kids will have to show up for the game to get the win but this will be a better team than the one against the Villains, not just because of the additional players involved but also because the Villains game was an experience to have learned from. The kids then have this opportunity to apply that experience here against Shrewsbury.
    Putting all these factors, their manager who knows them, Anfield, the experience gained from their games against tough teams, Shrewsbury (over Aston Villa or even Everton), the respect and trust Klopp has in them to show that they can play, the underdog tag and we have many reasons to believe that the kids can pull this off.
    As for the financial aspects of a big pay day- LFC have been in discussions with Shrewsbury on the compensation and stuff so the big pay day will still be substantial enough. The decision not to broadcast the game is by the TV stations and nothing to do LFC but more to do with fixture planning people. Get the fixtures right and the TV stations have no qualms about the broadcasts. Although minimal, this “could” play into Shrewsbury hands with more attempting to catch the game at Anfield and higher gate collections.
    The other side of should- What message is Klopp sending out should he ask “some” senior players to play and not all? Klopp has spent years building a bond of ONE camp, he is not about to split them up (See the Club World Club example) just to cater to fixtures. What message would he be sending those whom he would ask to play? ( You are not good enough to rest? You need to get minutes? You have to play because my TOP stars are knackered? You are qualified to play now because it is just Shrewsbury and not some other worthy opponent? etc) What message would Klopp be sending the kids? (You are not good enough and I would prefer a senior player coming back from injuries over you? You did not do well the last time out while the senior players I put out, Lovren, Matip, Fab, Origi, Takumi did better than you? etc.?
    This is Klopp’s decision. As manager, he has earned the right to decide who plays. All managers at all clubs decide these things. LFC is still in the FA cup and I believe the team put on at Anfield will be good enough to get the job done.

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Categories: Featured Article and Liverpool FC Opinion.
Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2020-02-02 00:26:40
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