Should Liverpool And Klopp Be Allowed To Call The Shots In The FA Cup?

The Reds manager will not take charge against Shrewsbury and many football fans aren't happy
12:33, 27 Jan 2020

It will be one of the biggest games in Shrewsbury Town’s history.

Liverpool at Anfield under the lights after a battling 2-2 draw earned them a well-deserved replay

However, the Reds first-team won’t be there and neither will Jurgen Klopp.

No, while the oldest football cup competition in the world is taking place on Merseyside, the Liverpool manager and his players will be having a week off, taking advantage of the new winter break introduced to English football this season.

There will be no training camp in sunnier climes. Instead, as reported by the Evening Standard, Klopp will give his star names an entire week off as a reward for their stunning season so far, topping the table having dropped only two points for the entire campaign.

A reserve side, managed by Neil Critchley, will take to the field against the League One Shrews.

"I said to the boys already two weeks ago that we will have a winter break, which means we will not be there," Klopp told the media after Sunday’s match.

"You cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it. I know that it's not very popular but that's the way I see it.

"The Premier League asked us to respect the winter break. That's what we do. If the FA doesn't respect that, then we cannot change it. We will not be there."

Now, first things first, as far as the principle goes, Klopp is right. 

It’s a massive oversight from football’s decision makers that a cup replay would fall over the allotted two-week break afforded to teams this season. 

However, the Liverpool manager must respect the Cup himself. He cannot simply choose to stay away and pass managerial duties to another coach. 

Sure, complain at the ridiculous decision of the fixture, but it’s his obligation to be there, managing the team at the game. He can’t just pick and choose which games he will and won’t attend.

Put simply, his decision will bring the game into disrepute. 

During an era when there are constant claims the FA Cup has lost it’s magic, it seems it’s the club’s at the top who have robbed it of its spark.

If Klopp wanted to utilise the extended break, he could have fielded a strong team to get the job done at Shrewsbury. Fielding a weakened side just heightened the potential of a replay.

It’s his lack of respect for the tournament which has put his club in the predicament of an extra game.

Liverpool, closing in on their first title in 30 years, have bigger fish to fry, that’s fine but you can’t just dismiss participation because it doesn’t fit in with your plans.

There has been much debate this year, on the back of comments made by Klopp and Man City boss Pep Guardiola, that replays such be scrapped.

It’s annoyed supporters. The game has been this way for years. Premier League clubs and managers should not be trying to sway for change to fit their own agendas.

Before a ball is kicked, teams like Shrewsbury already have eight more league fixtures than those in the top division. 

Cramming in fixtures, there is sometimes three games a week. They get on with it though, there are no complaints about needing rest. They compete and carry on.

Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt, clearly irked by Klopp’s comments, tweeted on Monday morning: “Liverpool need censuring and fining heavily. It’s not their football. It’s ours. Forever losing out to Premier League greed has to stop.”

He’s right. While the riches of the Premier League see top-flight teams prioritising finishing in the bottom half but surviving over aiming for silverware, the FA Cup can make lower league clubs.

Revenue generated, particularly from glamorous away trips to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates, can generate enough cash for clubs at the bottom of the pyramid to make giant strides in development and the transfer market.

Klopp shouldn’t be allowed to start calling the shots. The FA must ensure he fulfils the fixture.

In 1997, Middlesbrough were deducted three points after they postponed a match against Blackburn because manager Bryan Robson claimed he was unable to field a competitive team due to injuries.

Really, what is the difference here? 

Yes, there is a winter break scheduled, but the added fixture takes precedence. Any manager choosing not to take part in a competitive game should be apprehended or else the game we love becomes a mockery.

The magic of the FA Cup can only be restored when those at the top give it the respect it deserves. Or else what is the point anymore?

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