Liverpool may have been knocked out of the FA Cup, but Jürgen Klopp believes the competition was at least a partial success.
The manager allowed his young players to get time throughout the cup run, giving them valuable experience and getting the chance to evaluate them up close. In his Aston Villa pre-match press conference, Klopp discussed what that all meant and hinted that the youngsters could see time in other competitions as the season goes on.
"[The FA Cup] was a perfect moment for us to let them off the leash and let us show how strong our faith is in them and for them to show how good they are. It brought us great joy to watch these boys," Klopp said.
Klopp went on to share some individual success stories.
"If you think about Kevin Stewart and his situation a few weeks ago (injured after loan spell at Swindon), then games like this are perfect. I think it's very difficult for him to get the smile off his face at the moment, okay maybe the pain in his foot makes it more easy!" said the manager. "The same for Pedro Chirivella, it was a great perfomance. I think it's the biggest honour you can get in a game like this that Mr (Mark) Noble got the job to look after you. That's a really, really good thing."
The FA Cup also gave Klopp the chance to discover new players in his squad that no one had bothered to tell him about.
"When I first came here I didn't know [Tiago Ilori] was an LFC player to be honest. Of course not, he was at Aston Villa," Klopp said, burning his upcoming opponent with ease. "Time after time I got information about all the players who were on loan, I saw him, a centre-half, and you heard about the problems and you know he didn't play at Aston Villa, not even in the second team.
"He got here and you see then the potential," he added.