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John Aldridge: 'The four reasons why I would urge Jurgen Klopp to reconsider his FA Cup stance'

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA

Jurgen Klopp is determined to take a stand against the English Football Association after vowing to play a youth team in the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury, but I can't entirely agree with him on this occasion.

Liverpool's second-string players looked rusty as they allowed a two-goal lead to slip against lower league opposition last Sunday and it was clear to all that most of those players need game time rather than a rest right now.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stands by his decision to field a weakened team in the FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury. He says he needs to respect the pre-agreed mid-season break.

Dejan Lovren, Fabinho and Divock Origi are experienced performers who looked well short of their best against Shrewsbury and while I understand why Klopp is keen to give his first-team regulars the full winter break they were expecting, it strikes me that he might be missing an opportunity here.

There will not be too many seasons when your side are well clear at the top of the Premier League and a winning momentum is propelling them forward, so I would like to see Liverpool trying to continue that momentum in the three competitions they are competing in.

Who knows, Liverpool could lose to Atletico Madrid in what could be a tight Champions League last-16 tie. If that happens, they would have more than enough time to rest between Premier League games in the final few weeks of the season.

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Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren looked well short of his best against Shrewsbury (Peter Byrne/PA)

Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren looked well short of his best against Shrewsbury (Peter Byrne/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren looked well short of his best against Shrewsbury (Peter Byrne/PA)

In that scenario, Klopp may wish Liverpool were still in the FA Cup, but I honestly feel Shrewsbury will be favourites if the young team that lost 5-0 against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup play in this replay.

Liverpool have some talented youngsters coming through their ranks, but when it is a game between professional senior players and what is effectively a youth team, it will always be difficult to compete.

That's why I would urge Klopp to reconsider his position on this replay and go into it with a team that would give Liverpool a passage to the last-16 of a competition that means so much to all English football fans.

It would be strange if we see images of the Liverpool players on holiday in Dubai while the club's youngsters are getting knocked out of the FA Cup and I don't know how the fans would react to that scenario.

Klopp is a God among Liverpool supporters, but many may not be in agreement with him on this issue.

It might be that this is a situation to push for change in the future, rather than cutting your nose off to make a point that could end with Liverpool going out of the cup.

We are rapidly heading to a position where replays are removed from the FA Cup and that would be a shame in many ways, with the revenue they generate for lower league clubs when they manage to draw with one of the Premier League big-hitters so valuable during what are tough times for many clubs financially.

Whatever the future holds, FA Cup replays are here for now and even if Klopp is not a fan, I know what I would be doing if I was one of the players striving to break into his first team.

If Lovren, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and a few more of the fringe first-team players watched his interview stating he would play the kids against Shrewsbury at Anfield, they should have been knocking on his door at the Melwood training ground on Monday morning telling their manager they wanted to play.

A holiday is the last thing you need if you have barely played a game over the last few months and it could benefit the first team in the long run if these lads play against Shrewsbury.

If Liverpool pick up some injuries in the week before the Atletico Madrid game, some of these bench warmers will be starting and, from what we saw at the weekend, they are not ready for a game of that magnitude.

Liverpool showed in the FA Cup third-round win against Everton that they have a squad capable of competing against decent opposition and there is certainly a line-up that could be sent into battle at Anfield that would get the job done.

We could all see the dilemma he faced when Liverpool were playing in the FIFA Club World Cup in December and that worked out well as they came back from Qatar with silverware that was more valuable than the League Cup they sacrificed by playing a junior team at Villa Park.

This time, things are a little different and I'd like to think Klopp reflects on his initial decision over this replay and modifies his approach.

Liverpool are back in Premier League action at West Ham tonight, as they look to win their game in hand and extend their lead at the top of the table to a remarkable 19 points.

Despite West Ham manager David Moyes proclaiming he is a legendary manager to anyone still listening to him, the reality is he has never won a trophy in a career that has seen him pocket huge money in pay-offs after getting sacked in recent years.

With that in mind, I'm not convinced Moyes can turn things around at West Ham.

The dominant position Liverpool are in at the top of the Premier League means a few draws would not be a disaster for them at this stage, but manager Jurgen Klopp will not see it that way as anything less than victories are not good enough for this perfectionist of a manager.

He needs to plug the void left by the injured Sadio Mane and Divock Origi's shoddy performance in the FA Cup at Shrewsbury on Sunday did not inspire confidence that he is the man for the job.

Yet Liverpool have found a way to win football matches all season and I’d expect then to do the same again against the struggling Hammers at the London Stadium this evening.

Online Editors


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