Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has defended Jurgen Klopp’s plans to field a youth team during Liverpool’s FA Cup fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury.
The Reds drew 2-2 with the Shrews in the initial tie having initially taken a commanding 2-0 lead, meaning the two sides must once again face off at Anfield.
Is Klopp disrespecting the FA Cup? Five things to know…
- Liverpool’s FA Cup replay with Shrewsbury is scheduled to take place on February 4.
- That is right at the start of the Reds’ winter break.
- Klopp has revealed plans to field an U-23 team, managed by Neil Critchley in his place.
- The German has been heavily criticised for his decision but Guardiola has leapt to his defence.
- Liverpool are now 11/2 with William Hill* to win the FA Cup, just behind favourites Man City (6/4).
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However, the replay is scheduled to take place on February 4, just three days after their Premier League tie with Southampton and during a period in which the Reds are supposed to be having their winter break.
Klopp has insisted he and his senior players will honour the break, meaning Liverpool’s U-23 side will face Shrewsbury, managed by Neil Critchley – just as they were for their League Cup defeat to Aston Villa in December – a decision which has seen the German come in for widespread criticism.
But Guardiola, himself a vocal critic of the hectic English schedule, has defended of his rival, maintaining that it’s the manager’s prerogative to decide which players he fields for any given match.
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“Listen, we accept the schedules of the competitions, the games every two or three days, but don’t tell the manager which the selection he has to choose, please. That’s our job,” Guardiola said.
“They do what they want to do and we will be there – which day, at this time, we’ll be there – but it’s not for them to tell us which players we have to play in games. That’s our duty.”
Shrewsbury boss sympathises with Klopp decision
Despite seeing the shine taken off what would potentially be the biggest game of many of his players’ careers, Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts has offered his sympathy toward Klopp.
The former full-back is fully aware that for Liverpool, this FA Cup replay is “just another game” and that the Reds are bound to need a rest eventually, given how intensely they’re fighting for honours.
“I fully understand Liverpool’s position, they are fighting on all fronts for trophies and every three days they are there to get shot at,” he said.
“This was our cup final and we will have another one at Anfield, whereas for Liverpool it is just another day.
“I can understand that point of view. They are fighting for the Premier League, fighting for the Champions League and at some point, those players need a rest. I can’t read too much into it, we’ll see nearer the time.”