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The night Anfield defied the FA for disrespecting Liverpool’s youngsters

Get on the absolute state of Neil Critchley’s kids disrespecting the FA Cup, against Shrewsbury Town.

A point of principle was being made by Jurgen Klopp, to the FA, in sitting this one out. It didn’t stop him watching it though, maybe even illegally streaming it for good measure.


After the match, Critchley declared that Klopp had already been in touch and that he was “buzzing” about the outcome.

Elsewhere, Liverpool’s critics and detractors were spontaneously self-combusting. Denied the sight and personal sense of self-gratification of the club being served their comeuppance for allegedly bringing ‘The Magic of the Cup’ into disrepute.

Tuesday evening did supply magic, however.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's Adam Lewis (L) and Pedro Chirivella (R) celebrate with Under-23 manager Neil Critchley (C) after the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A packed out Anfield supplied Liverpool’s youngest ever line-up with a night they will never forget. It gifted those involved an experience that will never leave them, and for some, it will be a significant stepping stone to greatness.

Experienced before their time, this was an Anfield night that made giants of teenagers.

Of the 14 players involved for Liverpool, against Shrewsbury, nine of them were under the age of 20. This was inclusive of Curtis Jones, the youngest player to ever captain the club; this was inclusive of Harvey Elliott, who seems to be have been around forever already, and will quite possibly always be 16.



LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Shrewsbury Town's Ro-Shaun Williams scores an own-goal during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We won this one thanks to a comedy own goal, – from a former Man United academy graduate no less – meaning that Shrewsbury managed to score four of the five goals that spanned these 180 minutes of FA Cup football between the two clubs, yet still find themselves denied a fifth round trip to Stamford Bridge.

There is normally something unsavoury about taking pleasure out of a lower league club missing out on a big occasion, but the words attributed to their chairman during the build-up to this replay negated that sensation on Tuesday night.

The lack of interest from the BBC in taking the game for live coverage was bitterly lamented, but even had Klopp been in attendance and a similar team to the one which had played the original game taken to the field, then the BBC would still have likely headed off to cover Oxford vs. Newcastle instead.

When push comes to FA Cup shove, the national broadcaster just wants to provoke a 21st-century version of Ronnie Radford.

Ask your granddad.

Anfield was sold out for this one. The attendance of the game is the only one missing from the cluster of FA Cup results that are shown on the FA’s own website. However, there were comfortably more spectators in Anfield than there were within the combined stadiums that hosted FA Cup football in Oxford, Derby, Cardiff and Birmingham on Tuesday evening.



LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's young players line-up before the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Respect is a complex beast, apparently.

What Klopp and Liverpool opt to do with the FA Cup from here, is anybody’s guess. A midweek trip to face Chelsea in the fifth round is our ‘prize’ for overcoming Shrewsbury.

It would be a lot of fun to swipe away their best hope of a trophy for the 2019/20 season, but it is all about where the game sits. What other tasks surround the fixture?

Beat Chelsea and we will then be playing a quarter-final fixture on the weekend that the ‘number crunchers’ tell us we might be able to clinch the Premier League title, at home to Crystal Palace.

Given the events of Tuesday night though, how about we play two games simultaneously? Win the title at Anfield, while Critchley takes the kids off to Old Trafford to knock Man United out of the FA Cup

Liverpool have proved many times over this season that nothing is impossible. As the title becomes a formality of when, rather than if, the invective toward us, from some directions, has intensified.

Believe our detractors and our success is due to no more than a VAR conspiracy and the decaying of the moral fibre of the Premier League as an entity. The omni-fume is hypnotic, praise is impossible to bestow for some.



LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's Pedro Chirivella (L) and Neco Williams (R) celebrate after the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is further antagonised by football lovers who bare no grudge to Liverpool, football lovers who recognise greatness when they see it and gladly acknowledge it.

It is uncomfortable to hear praise lavished upon a rival team. Each time you hear of a rival team being speculated to be the best ever it is like a dagger to the gut, as it questions your soul, it marks a sensory devaluation of the greatest vintages of your own team. It wounds the memories you have.

For some, such challenges of the senses are unbearable. For evidence of this, if you haven’t already seen it, seek out the Radio 5 Live footage of Robbie Savage picking apart an irate Manchester City fan on 606 last Sunday.

Even for me, who doesn’t usually listen to it, or countless other shows like it, it is a stunning example of the irrationality of the football fan in denial.

Respect is a two-way thing and those who accuse Liverpool of a lack of respect the loudest, are the ones who find it impossible to pay their respect to just how brilliant this Liverpool really is.

For some, this rise of Liverpool is their nightmares coming home to roost and they simply cannot cope with it.

Don’t worry yourselves about them though. There will never be an epiphany for them, they will always seek to scorn. Let them have their pain because they have very little else left.

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