According to The Telegraph, The Football Association have slapped down on Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s decision to snub the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury Town after the governing body claimed that the club had ‘willingly’ agreed to plans over the summer.
Liverpool were held to 2-2 stalemate with the League One outfit after the European champions surrendered a two-goal lead – forcing them into a dreaded replay.
Klopp has bemoaned the competition on several occasions this season and now has finally been forced into taking a stand. His post-match declaration that none of the club’s Champions League-winning senior players will take part in the Anfield reverse fixture was a shock, to say the least.
The German manager informed the squad earlier this month that there would be no warm-weather training camp for the players and that they could make their own individual holiday plans for seven days with specially tailored individual programmes.
Whilst the club’s owners back Klopp in his decision to ‘respect the winter break’, the FA have instead taken the rare step of issuing a public rebuke, pointing out that all Premier League clubs agreed before the season that potential FA Cup replays would be played in the first midweek of February – whether or not they were scheduled to be on the new winter break.
Liverpool’s replay is scheduled to take place February 4 and 5, which will cut into the new mid-season break which runs between February 2 and 16. To protect the bulk of his players, Klopp has instead decided the club “will be the kids who play” against Shrewsbury and has also abdicated managerial duties to U23s manager Neil Critchley.
When Liverpool were forced to field a youth team in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup against Aston Villa in December – 24 hours before the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey in Qatar – it was again up to Critchley to oversee the Reds youngsters.
If Liverpool beat Shrewsbury in their upcoming replay, they will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the fifth round.
What RTK has to say
The decision taken by Klopp to snub the world’s oldest cup competition has very much divided opinion. Liverpool’s stance to protect their senior members is the biggest form of neglect on the FA Cup since Manchester United opted not to take part in 1990/2000 so that they could compete in the Club World Championships in Brazil.
The FIFA Coach of the Year will still have the backing of the Anfield faithful no matter what the final outcome. Klopp is an icon amongst supporters due to their current states as champions of Europe, champions of the world and Premier League champions-elect.
Some supporters would argue that the FA Cup, third in the club’s priority list, has lost its sparkle over the years and doesn’t compete with the Reds’ main goals this season.
Without being blunt, the Reds have bigger fish to fry this campaign with the Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid on the horizon. Klopp could have played it all down but his decision has proven the German wants to make a point.
In his eyes and the eyes of many, enough is enough.