Jurgen Klopp made an unusual and debatable move on Friday but Steve Nicol believes the explanation is pretty cut and dry.
Liverpool beat Aston Villa 4-1 in the FA Cup Third Round. It’s a a result that looks far better on paper than it actually was, though.
In reality, Liverpool’s first-team beat Aston Villa Under 23s 4-1.
The most notable thing about it was Klopp’s decision to play his first team. The boss usually avoids doing that in the FA Cup – no matter the opponents.
And it was a debatable decision here, too. Liverpool clearly didn’t need to go quite that strong and Klopp could have used the game to rest more players.
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So why did he do it? Liverpool legend Steve Nicol feels it’s simple to explain.
“There’s a balance between needing a rest and needing a win,” Nicol told ESPN. “And there’s no question that after the last three results, Liverpool needed a win.
“So it was worth playing players for the longer period of time than [Klopp] probably wanted to.
“That’s why he did it.”
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This is one reason – and probably the most likely. Liverpool’s last three results have been terrible, after all.
They’ve picked up two points from a possible nine, scoring just once over those three games. They weren’t games against strong teams, either – West Brom, Newcastle United and Southampton.
You would usually back Liverpool to win all three.
Thus generating momentum ahead of Manchester United next week was vital and Liverpool just about managed that. It still wasn’t a very good performance but they got a win, with key players scoring goals.
There are another couple of potential reasons for the strong team, though. Klopp may have simply wanted to avoid a two-week break ahead of United for some key players.
Alternatively, Liverpool may be taking the FA Cup more seriously this season? But that’s probably just wishful thinking on our part as we hope for a first Double since 1986 (a team Nicol was a part of, coincidentally).
In all likelihood, Nicol is right about Klopp, though. The boss wanted momentum and a bit of good form.
He got it in the end.