Despite being the heavy favourites, Liverpool could only come away with a draw against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.
The Reds were 2-0 up with 30 minutes left, but a brace from Jason Cummings has left them facing a replay at Anfield on February 4th – a game they could probably do without.
Jurgen Klopp was clearly unhappy after the match, and he stated that neither he nor the senior players will be available for the return clash. That is because it coincides with the two-week winter break agreed upon last year – even though the F.A warned the Reds that this situation could occur.
As such, Neil Critchley will take charge, and club’s U23s will line up. It is a big call from Klopp, but clearly the Premier League is his priority. Has he made the right decision? We asked our writers for their verdicts.
“This is arrogance of the highest order. Jurgen Klopp’s similar decision earlier on in the season was forgivable due to the sheer nature of the scheduling involved. But the proposed FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury falls in the mid-season winter break, so the German has no excuse for revealing he and his first-team players will not be available for that match. The Liverpool boss has blatantly disrespected the competition, and is making a mockery of the idea of competition. Managers who have taken courses of action like this before have been rebuked – think back to Mick McCarthy when he was Wolves manager. Klopp should come under the same scrutiny, however brilliant he has been for English football and the Reds. This is a major question mark on Klopp’s integrity.”
“I think Jurgen Klopp has every right to be angry, although he has perhaps gone about things in the wrong way here. The German manager has long been an advocate for having a winter break in English football, and he surely would have been delighted by its introduction this season – albeit it only gives Premier League teams one week off in 2019/20. To then have the possibility of having an FA Cup replay scheduled during that supposed break is all wrong, and could have disrupted any warm-weather training plans the club and their boss may have had for example. It is completely understandable that Klopp is annoyed and frustrated and the FA should take a long hard look at themselves, because these third-round games could easily have been finished on the day if the 90 minutes ended in a draw.”
“This isn’t a good look for Klopp or Liverpool at all. The FA Cup is a prestigious competition that deserves respect – not at least because Shrewsbury Town have earned the right to battle a replay at Anfield, where they would have expected to come up against several first-team stars. It would be a dream for most of their players as some, if not all, will never get an opportunity like this again. Imagine being the man to beat Virgil van Dijk for the winner or to keep a clean sheet against Salah, Mane and Firmino. Liverpool are 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League, they can afford this replay, no matter what the German may say otherwise. Yes, a maiden PL title should be a priority, Yes, they could go back-to-back in the Champions League, but why not stamp your mark down in history further by completing a historic treble? That would sure be one way to anger those of red – and even blue – in Manchester. Klopp must reconsider his approach or this will go down as a smudge on his reputation.”
“To an extent, you can understand Klopp’s frustration. After having planned for a two-week break, his and the club’s plans have now had to change. However, the 52-year-old seems to be forgetting that this is a situation he would have avoided had his team not blown a 2-0 lead against Salop. If he had wanted to progress right away so much, perhaps he should have fielded a stronger XI! And anyway, this would not necessarily have been the worst news in the world for some of those fringe players. The likes of Adrian, Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi rely on the cup competitions for starts. Now, they have just seen another game taken away from them. This is an error of judgement by Klopp. He is better than that.”
In other news, Liverpool fans have slammed Jurgen Klopp’s FA Cup decision.