WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We limit careers, that’s how it is” – Jurgen Klopp responds to criticism of FA Cup replay decision

Jurgen Klopp has dismissed criticism surrounding his decision to delegate the FA Cup fourth-round replay with Shrewsbury to Liverpool’s under-23s.

In a plan clearly long in the works, Klopp revealed after the 2-2 draw at New Meadow on Sunday evening that he would not lead the Reds out for the replay.

Nor would his stand-in, Neil Critchley, call upon any of the first-team squad, with a youthful side instead set to play again, as with the League Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa in December.

It was suggested afterwards that Klopp was sending the wrong message despite his clear stance against disrupting the agreed winter break.

But in his press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with West Ham, the manager set straight a series of issues that were presented to him at Melwood.

“We want to go to the next round, that’s still the plan. Why should our U23s not be able to do that?” he asked.

Klopp explained, following claims he would better off managing the youngsters than taking a mid-season break, that “they need their coach and that’s Critch.”

“They get all our support and we try everything as a club to win that game,” he added.

“It’s possible, it’s not easy, but it’s possible—that’s the only thing that’s important.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between KRC Genk and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

He ruled out any involvement for the likes of Fabinho, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren,, and insisted his players would not simply be taking a break between Saturday’s clash with Southampton and the trip to Norwich on February 15.

“It’s not a break, it’s not that they don’t train—we send coaches with them,” he said.

“They train, but not here at Melwood, not football, just to keep the body going a bit.”

The squad will embark on holidays and follow individual training programmes, to be joined by coaches from the club to monitor their progress.

Klopp later continued: “People call me lazy, disrespectful…I’m responsible for my players and we decided for them, for us, for the group, this will be the mid-season break.”

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 26, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Shrewsbury Town's manager Sam Ricketts after the FA Cup 4th Round match between Shrewsbury Town FC and Liverpool FC at the New Meadow. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He also sympathised with lower-league sides and the prospect of a ‘payday’ from high-profile away trips, but he backed calls to scrap replays, saying “we have to find different solutions” for clubs like Shrewsbury.

The manager highlighted the increasing schedule for top-level players with international and club tournaments every summer, insisting on a set winter break in the future.

“We want to play football as often as possible. But that’s the key word: possible!” he stressed.

“We limit careers, we limit performance levels; that’s how it is.”

It is a bold decision from Klopp, but he is convinced “it’s about making the standpoint just clear,” and his explanation certainly relieves some concerns over his stance.

Whether that will calm the uproar from outside Liverpool ahead of the replay—which is likely to be played on Tuesday, February 4—remains to be seen.