John Giles: Jurgen Klopp has insulted the FA Cup and Sam Allardyce can capitalise
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There is no greater insult that Jurgen Klopp could aim at the FA Cup than sending his two best players to Ghana 24 hours before a derby tie. What is he thinking?
Only Manchester United stooped lower when they abandoned the FA Cup altogether back in 2000 to travel to Brazil for the FIFA World Club Championships but at least Alex Ferguson expressed his opposition to the move before expediency and a big wedge of cash overruled him.
Fans of Liverpool and Everton have been looking forward to this game since the draw was made and in my view, he is trampling on their hopes and dreams – and for no obvious gain – by allowing Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane a pass to travel.
Klopp is one of the managers who has criticised the workload of his players but after this, he has no credibility on that subject.
What annoyed me most of all was the dismissive attitude he had when he was questioned about his decision. He suggested that since they would be asleep if they were in England, they could sleep as easily at 36,000 feet.
That was about as glib a thing he could have said, as if it’s all a bit of a joke to him. Klopp seems quite happy to wave his top men off on a junket and that is even more mystifying given his admission that Salah has a groin strain.
If that’s true and with all due respect to Africa and their wish to honour Salah at a gala dinner, the very last thing he should be doing is sitting on an aeroplane for 12 hours over the course of a day.
I believe Klopp had no intention of playing either Salah or Mane in the first place and bringing them back to sit on the bench is a botched compromise, which only underlines his disregard for a competition which could yet be very important to Liverpool this season.
It’s not like they are going to win the Premier League title. Liverpool are 18 points behind Manchester City, who they play next week, and the best Klopp can hope for is a top four finish. A day out in Wembley is never bad in those circumstances.
At the root of all of this is money. The fact that a Mersey derby FA Cup tie is being played on a Friday night is down to the deal done with broadcasters.
But that deal is a tiny fraction of the money big clubs get from the Premier and Champions Leagues so that’s where their priorities lie.
Put it this way – if this was a league fixture, Salah and Mane would be going nowhere.
Klopp is living through a very messy spell at Anfield and it is looking increasingly likely that the only thing standing between Philippe Coutinho and Barcelona is the size of the fee.
Apparently, Coutinho is injured as well and unlikely to feature against Everton. All of this plays into Sam Allardyce’s hands. I’ll bet Allardyce has been hammering the point all week that Klopp is showing disrespect for Everton by sending his two best men off on a jaunt the day before the derby.
Allardyce has done a good job of stabilising Everton and was helped in a big way by the pulse of good results which followed his appointment. By no means are Everton out of the woods. I saw them lose to Bournemouth and Manchester United over the holidays and Allardyce still has a big job on his hands.
And I don’t doubt for a second that Allardyce would do exactly the same if he felt that sending out his reserves would help Everton’s league position but in this scenario, it suits him to have a right go at the FA Cup.