Jurgen Klopp has fired back after criticism of his decision to play a youth team against Shrewsbury in Liverpool ‘s FA Cup replay.
Klopp himself may not be in attendance for the game with both the manager and his players planning to take a winter break.
Some view the decision as disrespectful to both Shrewsbury and the FA Cup but Klopp defended his position on Tuesday.
Jurgen Klopp defended Liverpool’s stance over their FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury
He said: ‘I decided three weeks ago we would have a mid-season break based on a letter we got in April 3256. I don’t want to be in the middle of these discussions.
‘If people think I am lazy because I am not there, I cannot change that and I’m not interested. I just feel responsible for my players. If we find a way to play it then nothing will change and we have to change it.
‘I am not a revolutionary guy. My responsibility is to my players. If we react like we always react – ‘okay we have to do it’ – nothing will change and everyone in football agrees something has to change. ‘
The Football Association has insisted every club agreed to this season’s FA Cup fixture schedule and knew fourth-round replays might cut into their winter breaks, as is also the case with Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle.
Despite the outcry over Klopp’s position on the matter, he insists Liverpool will still be trying their utmost to win the game on February 4 and send the side through to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the quarter-finals.
Liverpool have been accused by some of disrespecting the FA Cup by putting out weak teams
And speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s Premier League game at West Ham, the German accused the FA of failing to speak to the right people at Liverpool
He said: ‘The way they spoke about it, I don’t know who was there from which club, but I know the FA said all the clubs agreed.
‘No sports-responsible were there. Not a club, not a manager, not a sporting director and that’s what we need, that’s what has to change otherwise next season we have exactly the same situation. ‘
Klopp went on: ‘I feel sorry for Shrewsbury. After the game, everyone spoke about what I said and not the performance of Shrewsbury. We want to go to the next round, that’s still the case. It’s not that we gave up.
‘It’s not that I want to make popular decisions, I have to make decisions on the situation we are in. The FA tried to move games to midweek to decrease intense period. Whoever was involved in that, maybe from us they forgot to say no.
‘They gave us two weeks and it was not clear which week. We cannot have a week off and say ‘OK, there are two days to prepare for CL game’.
‘Because we plan long term, I cannot plan when there is a real decisive period coming up. I am not sure who was there in the discussions but no sporting people were there for the talks. This week is the break.
‘Our players train [while away] just not here at Melwood. We had to make a decision and I have. Now it looks like people want something different.
Klopp thinks something has to change and the schedule of fixtures is far too busy
‘Could I be here for it? Of course, but it is a misunderstanding of coaching. I cannot just show up for it within two days. They need their coach and that is Neil Critchley.
‘It would be easy now to say I will be there and everyone will be happy but that is the wrong statement.’
There was also criticism earlier in the season when Klopp took Liverpool’s senior players and best young talents to the Club World Cup.
They left behind a squad of up and coming teenagers to play Aston Villa away from home in the Carabao Cup and were roundly beaten 5-0.
Klopp drew a parallel with that situation, adding: ‘The associations brought us in the situation in December’ do we play Carabao Cup or World team cup ‘and we have to make a decision. Why? People are asking us to play Aston Villa because nobody in England thought it was important to be here.
‘If we had sent the kids there CWC – it would have been a massive mistake it was a really big tournament for everyone else apart from England and maybe Germany.’
Liverpool put a young side out against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup and lost 5-0
The German went on to say he understands the financial importance of the FA Cup on smaller sides in the EFL, but sees that their resources are also stretched thin by the schedule.
‘I heard, really clear opinions about replays, financial situations for lower league teams and I respect that,’ he went on.
‘For more of my life I have worked and played for lower league teams but the replay cannot be the solution. The Oxford, manager the other day says they play nine games in February. They fight for the league, they can’t need games and they have not a squad to constantly play three games a week. For the moment it is a solution but in the long term it is not a solution. We all have problems after an unbelievably busy period.
‘Nobody wants to take money away form smaller teams. It is a break from tradition and it is difficult to break from tradition, especially when you are not from the country. I love the cup competitions, I did at Dortmund. ‘
Though Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts said that his club would benefit financially from the replay, Klopp said that the League One side could ill afford the Anfield game either.
He argued: ‘I don’t know how many players they (Shrewsbury) have but they don’t have the squad for playing three games on the highest level, ‘Klopp said. ‘It’s not a solution for these teams as well.
Klopp thinks Liverpool need to take a stand for anything to change with the fixture congestion
‘A lot of top, top world class players again get no break in the summer.’
‘The players have their program. It is about the best thing for the players. Critch did really really well at Aston villa, forget the goals, the performance was brilliant and with a similar performance, the boys have chance against Shrewsbury. ‘
Klopp is aware of repeating himself with his reiteration of the problems with scheduling but thinks the situation is at breaking point.
‘I have no idea (what the solution is),’ he admitted. ‘I said what I said, other people find explanations, I don’t want to find excuses. The clubs involved have to think differently.
‘I have said this a lot of times. In 2021 we have a Copa America and another European competitions, we now have a bigger Club World Cup.
‘I constantly have to talk about this, if we don’t have a discussion then there is a bigger Champions League, here is another game. We are part of the club, we want to play football as often as possible but that is the key word – possible. All the big sports have breaks.
‘In America have four months and nobody knows where they are. Here, it is constantly playing throughout and the players cannot do that, it limits careers and performance levels. ‘
KEY QUOTES FROM JURGEN KLOPP’S PRESS CONFERENCE:
On Kobe Bryant’s death:
Of course I was absolutely shocked, I met him once. It was one of the rare moments, we had a selfie together. I admire these personalities, connections charity wise and stuff like this.
It just showed all of us how quick it can be finished, look at how brilliant the life was until then and then you get all the other information, the daughter, all very very sad news.
Sadio Mane injury update:
He will not be ready for for West Ham and probably not for Southampton but then should be fine, the week after that is perfect to get back on track.
He has a small muscle tear which is serious enough to keep him out but we were lucky with injury as well, it was not that serious. But when you have three games in a week, then he is out for three games.
looking ahead to West Ham:
West Ham fights for the league, staying in the league, that is what it looks light. It will be a big fight, defensive line up, four in the back or five in the back, both is possible.
They have done something mixed already, so different possibilities. We have to be ready for a big fight they want to strike back and have a big program coming up.
There are no points to waste, no time to waste, it will be a tough one 325 per cent. We have to fight as well, set the intensity level and do some smart things with possession as well. A big challenge – they have counter attacking threats. Tough but that is what the PL is about.
Firmino’s superb away form:
It is strange. I am fine with hat, if enough people score at home. Thank God we have an away game. FA Cup replays:
‘I heard, really clear opinions about replays, financial situations for the lower league teams and I respect that, for most of my life I have worked and played for lower league teams and I understand that situation per cent but the replay cannot be the solution.
‘We have to find different solutions. There are solutions. The Oxford manager the other day says they play nine games in February. They fight for the league, that day they could have won on penalties, they were likelier on the winning side than we were on the winning side in that game. Then they can go to the next round. Good. They can’t need games and they have not a squad to constantly play three games a week. It is for the moment a solution but in the long term it is not a solution.
‘We all have problems after an unbelievably busy period, January December. and now decisions will be made, who wins the league, who goes to Europe who stays in the league and nothing is decided yet. And the replays really cause everybody problems, we have to find a solution, nobody wants to take money away from smaller teams. But the replay is not the solution.
‘I realise it is a break from tradition ad it is difficult to break from tradition, especially when you are not from the country. I love the club competitions I did at Dortmund, three or four times was in a cup final in seven years. But I have to see the bigger picture and that is what I do. The players have their program.
His own attendance the game:
I will not be there not because I don’t want to be there but it is not about showing up and wearing my training gear and showing the world I am here.
It is about the best thing for the boys and they need their coach. Critch did really really well at Aston villa, forget the goals, the performance was brilliant and a similar performance, the boys have a chance against Shrewsbury. You never have more than a chance before the game and I hope they will make it.
The FA making changes:
‘I have no idea (what to do about it). I said what I said, other people find explanations, I don’t want to say excuses. The clubs involved have to think differently and discuss these things differently. The players ’situation is discussed in a moment, and that is what has to change.
‘I have said, not only me that a lot of times. 2021 We have a Copa America and another European championship again, we now have a bigger Club World Cup in 2021 and UEFA now plans another parallel tournament. It is uncomfortable that I constantly have to talk about this, if we don’t make a discussion then there is a bigger Champions League, here is another game. I don’t want to be a shouter for everybody but this is a moment where we have to stay strong and say no, we cannot do it like this.
We are part of the club, we talk to all the important people in our club. We want to play football as often as possible but that is the key word – possible.
You cannot play constantly. All the big sports have breaks. In America have four months and nobody knows where they are. Here it is constantly playing through and the players cannot do that, we limits careers, we limit performance levels.
It would be easy now to say I will be there now and everyone will be happy and then everything is fine but that is the wrong statement.
His stance on the winter break:
We made a decision for this squad three weeks ago, not for the players. That is it. It is a stance or a standpoint as well, it is the mid-season break. The plan was, I don’t want to go back always to that but I don’t understand why nobody really thinks – the associations brought us in the situation in December where we have to think ‘do we play Carabao Cup or World team cup ‘and we have to make a decision. Why? There’s a schedule, find a way that it’s normal. People are asking us to play Aston Villa because nobody in England thought it was really important to be there.
We went there and we realized if we hadn’t been there, if we had sent the kids there, to the CWC, it would have been a massive mistake, statement that we are not interested in what the outside world is interested in because it was a really big tournament for all people apart from England and Germany maybe, or Europe, let me say it like this.
Now we are again in a situation where we have to make a decision but we have a schedule, like we all have a schedule. We need a schedule we can rely on and the mid-season break needs to be there, from next year on, for everyone. It is mainly for the Champions League clubs as they have the busy schedule.
I don’t want to be the the guy who makes that decision but when Shrewsbury scored, made it 2-2 I felt a little bit … ‘oh maybe it is destiny’.
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