Klopp’s Right To Take On FA Over Fixture Congestion
Given how utterly superb the Reds have been this season, I perhaps should have seen the reaction to our draw with Shrewsbury Town coming. Very few people have reacted to the draw in a calm manner, with most people deciding to throw their toys out of the pram. Don’t get me wrong, the performance wasn’t good enough. The senior players let down their younger teammates, failing to step up to the plate against League One opponents that we should have had enough to beat. That is especially the case when you bear in mind that we had a two goal lead in the immediate wake of the second-half getting underway. Yet by the same token it’s hardly a surprise that the side lacked any sort of fluidity, given that it was a starting eleven that had literally never played together before and the senior players were, with the exception of Minamino and Adrian, recently returning from lengthy injury layoffs.
We take the greatness of the #LFC defence for granted these days. Today’s defensive performance was commonplace for a lot of the previous decade.
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) January 26, 2020
It’s not excuse-making to point this out, it’s just a fact. The Liverpool defence was made up of two kids and two central defenders that have been out for months. It’s not exactly a shock that it didn’t look cohesive. Obviously Dejan Lovren should have done better with their second, but when you’ve been out for a while your first game back is both mentally and physically draining. People who play five-a-side know that to be true, so imagine what it must be like at the professional level. It’s also massively disrespectful of Shrewsbury Town to suggest that we failed to win rather than they earned a draw. They played the game well and took advantage of our youngsters’ lack of experience. It was the older players that should have done better yet didn’t, meaning that we have to add an FA Cup replay to our already busy schedule. It’s put Jürgen Klopp on a collision course with the Football Association and I’m on his side.
The FA Can’t Have It All Ways
For as long as I can remember, conversations about fixture congestion have been taking place in the world of professional English football. It has been a bone of contention for years, with this sort of climax inevitable at some point. The Football Association doesn’t want to do anything to help football clubs out in terms of keeping their players in top condition, yet is also annoyed when managers don’t pick full-strength sides for the domestic cup competitions. They can’t have it both ways. If they want clubs to take the cups seriously then they need to do more to help managers out in ensuring players aren’t going to get injured. When they decided that they would introduce a mini-winter break for this season, they contacted managers to tell them to use it and not to arrange money-making friendlies during their enforced rest period. Why is it then ok for the FA to say that cup replays can take place then?
Jurgen Klopp says that no senior players will be involved in the FA Cup fourth round replay and he won’t manage the team. Neil Critchley will be in charge #LFC
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) January 26, 2020
The hypocrisy of the English FA is well-known to anyone that has followed the organisation’s decision making over the years. They constantly make decisions that are in their own interests rather than the interests of the football clubs and players that they are supposed to represent. Little wonder, then, that Jürgen Klopp has decided to take the FA to task over it all. The idea that Klopp himself should be there and not put the match in the hands of Neil Critchley is an understandable one, but it would weaken his stance to do so. He needs to make the point to the powers that be that be that if they’ve said clubs are getting a break then they should get a break, not lose that break when it’s convenient for the Football Association to play their own games within it. I think it’s posturing from the manager, keen to make the FA rethink their approach and play the game on a different date. The only question is whether or not it will work.
We’d All Love To Win The FA Cup
More and more people are starting to accept that idea that, barring some sort of apocalyptic collapse, Liverpool will be Premier League champions. This side will be thought of as one of the all-time greats regardless of what else happens, but if we’re able to add FA Cup and Champions League trophies to the top-flight title then there will be no question that this side will deserve to be talked of in the same breath as the best sides ever to play the game. I therefore completely understand why some people are so disappointed with the manager’s attitude, not least of all because there are plenty of players that could do with the game time. If the match against Shrewsbury Town proved anything then it’s that the likes of Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Fabinho are in desperate need of getting minutes into their legs. It makes complete sense for them to do that in the FA Cup replay, if it didn’t undermine the manager’s point to do so.
Aware this sounds like spin, but FA Cup replay for #LFC no disaster – as comes at good time, because there’ll be at least 6 players coming back from injury (including Shaqiri, Keita, Milner) who’ll actually need a game when there’s supposed to be a winter break. Klopp cunning?!
— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) January 26, 2020
It is the Football Association, rather than clubs and managers, that have removed the quality of the cup over the years. Shifting kick-off times to suit international audiences, putting both of the semi-finals at Wembley and welcoming sponsorship from any company that was willing to pay the money are all things that have taken the shine of the showpiece cup competition. The issue of asking us to play a replay during our supposed winter break is just another step in that direction. Let’s not forget that the FA should have seen these issues coming. In 1999 Manchester United withdrew from the FA Cup after the Football Association basically told them to. That was because the FA feared United not taking part in the Club World Cup would affect England’s chances of hosting the World Cup, but United didn’t take much persuading. Twenty years later and the organisation doesn’t seem to have learnt any lesson.