No Liverpool fan wants to see the Reds lose in any capacity (margin of error +/- one Jurgen Klopp). Especially not a senior-level match. Especially not when it ends up being a 5-0 drubbing. Especially when it eliminates us from a cup competition.
By fielding a youth team, managed by a youth team coach, against Premier League opponents the drubbing and subsequent elimination was always a possibility, if not a likelihood, last night. And that’s exactly what unfolded.
Liverpool fans knew this was a possibility. But equally, they knew how important it would be to support the team of youths, which is precisely what the thousands who traveled to Villa Park did.
“The support we had, it’s Christmas and they were well aware of the team that was going to be on the pitch but they came in their thousands,” Neil Critchley, the youth team coach said, praising the fans after the match.
“They stayed right until the end and clapped all those young players off the pitch. It just shows what a special football club this is.”
It was a true display of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” (or lose 5-0 to Villa alone). There wasn’t much the fans could do for the inexperienced team other than show up, sing some songs, and clap them off the pitch. And the traveling Kop upheld their end of the bargain.
The outcome was far from desirable. Even Klopp, who clearly wanted to GTFO of the League Cup before this point, and definitely before the two-legged semifinal, surely didn’t want the kids to be tonked in the manner that they did.
Regardless, Critchley still thought it was a positive experience for the young players.
“We haven’t chosen this. It was decided by the club that it was the best solution and try telling any of the players in the dressing it was a bad thing for them.
“If you came into the dressing room you would know the feeling the players have had.
“You can’t swap that experience for anything and it was a special evening for them.”
Hopefully the players can take that experience and turn it into something positive as they continue their development. And hopefully next time they lace up their boots for the first team, they won’t be sent out as sacrificial lambs to the football scheduling gods.