After confirming he will stay away from the stadium rather than watch the club’s U-23 side try to secure a fifth-round trip to Chelsea, Klopp says he feels compelled to take a stand against the FA’s decision to schedule cup replays at a time when players and staff have been instructed by the Premier League to “respect” the rest period.
Klopp insisted U-23 coach Neil Critchley should manage the team, although many of those who featured in earlier rounds such as Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams will be available.
“What difference would it make? Why should I be there? Give me a reason why I should?” said Klopp, when asked why he would not even sit in the directors’ box.
“I said it already. On the football side it is clear and the other thing is we have to make a stand.
“We had to make a decision. It’s necessary that these boys, these ‘all-time’ players who constantly play, get their time off. We are a football team and we are a group together. We are all or nobody. We had to make the decision then and we made it.
“Of course we thought we would win (the first game), but we didn’t and although it was not in the beginning it is now a principle thing. They scored the equaliser and I thought, ‘OK now we have to stick to it’.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is among those supporting Klopp’s decision to pick an U-23 side.
“Don’t tell the manager the selection he has to choose, please. That’s our job,” said Guardiola.
Liverpool have reduced adult ticket prices to £15 for the Shrewsbury tie and, although the FA says clubs were warned of the timing of replays, Klopp queried the validity of those conversations.
“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 one sports-responsible was there,” said Klopp.
“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.
“I don’t want to be the person who is the shouter for everyone. But there comes a moment where we must say ‘no’. Most times in my life I worked and played for lower-league teams. Replays cannot be the answer. Shrewsbury could have won the penalty shoot-out and gone through.”
In a defence of his position, Klopp said it made sense for Critchley to step in.
“Could I be there for the game?” he asked. “Of course I could but that would be a complete misunderstanding of management and coaching. They need their coach – and they get their coach, Critch.
“The only responsibility I feel is for my players and all the other players as well.”
For tonight’s Premier League game at West Ham – which was rearranged because of their Club World Cup commitments – Klopp will be without Sadio Mane, who is recovering from a hamstring strain.
Darren Randolph’s position in the Hammers side is under threat. The Ireland No 1 has yet to keep a clean sheet since moving from Middlesbrough and Lukasz Fabianski is close to fitness after injury.
© Daily Telegraph, London