Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s stance on the Liverpool-Shrewsbury Town FA Cup post-match replay scheduled right smack in the League’s winter break is courting some controversy.
Liverpool saw a comfortable two-goal lead to slip to a 2-2 draw with hosts Shrewsbury Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday. Piers Morgan was understandably not over the moon with the result, though, as he noted that Jurgen Klopp had made loads of changes to his usual starting XI. He tweeted:
“Hate to be a party-pooper but Shrewsbury nicking a draw against Liverpool’s reserves isn’t proof of the ‘Magic of the Cup! It just shows how unimportant the FA Cup now is to a club like Liverpool that they rested most of their best players.”
Speaking after the game, Klopp confirmed his decision to rest his entire first-team squad for the replay. And this is the actual crux of the matter that has sparked controversy.
“We will not be there and it will be the kids,” an adamant Klopp said.
” In April 2019 we got a letter from the Premier League where they ask us to respect the winter break and not to organise international friendlies or competitive games. We respect that. I said to the boys already two weeks ago that we will have a winter break. You cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it. I know it’s not very popular but that’s the way I see it. If the FA doesn’t respect it we cannot change it. We will not be there.”
“We have to respect the players’ welfare…They need a rest, a mental rest and physical rest. That is what the winter break is about…We had to make these decisions before because players have families.”
Klopp has also affirmed that he won’t be on hand to manage Liverpool for that Fourth Round replay which is scheduled for the Premier League’s new mid-season break. Neil Critchlow will be in charge of the team instead.
Klopp was visibly angry when speaking about the schedule congestion as he knew his already fatigued players were all in need of a long overdue break. After Liverpool’s draw 2-2 against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup Fourth Round, the replay has been set for either 4th or 5th February and will be Liverpool’s 41st game of the Season, an average of a game every five days, and a game just under every four days for the past two months.
This is despite the new Premier League mid-season break that sets in from the 2 Feb-16 Feb, the same much discussed mid-season break that’s been bantered about for years regarding England’s lack of a much needed winter break that the majority of the European Leagues enjoys.
For the first time in Premier League history there will be a winter break this season which comes in February, with half of the teams playing on the weekend of February 8 and the other half playing on February 15, meaning every team gets at least two weeks off.
That seemed to be the plan on paper at least until the FA Cup replays had to be factored in.
Read Part 2 by Benjy-KHN tomorrow on Football Tribe.