So there’s this game tonight. One involving Liverpool. In the League Cup. You may have heard about it and the part where nobody quite knows what to make of it given Liverpool are sending a U23 side to take on a Premier League side.
More than that, they’re sending a weakened U23 side without Curtis Jones and Neco Williams after the youngsters travelled with the senior squad to Qatar to cover for injuries. So. Tonight. Villa. Against the U23s. Let’s try to make sense of it.
“I know how a lot of people in the public see it,” was Jürgen Klopp’s take on things, with the Liverpool manager addressing the issue from Qatar as he prepares his side to take on Monterrey in the Club World Cup on Wednesday evening.
“But if all the football games would be decided before we start, only because of the perception of the people, then most of the games wouldn’t be played. I believe, I’m a big believer in, everybody has a chance.”
A chance but very few expectations—a bit like if some League Two side was coming up against Liverpool in the League Cup quarter-final. Which still doesn’t really help us make sense of the game from a fan’s point of view, but there it is.
It’s a chance. To run and to work and impress and to hopefully not end up on the wrong side of a lopsided scoreline, for the players and also for U23 manager Neil Critchley, who’s been put in charge with Klopp and Pepijn Lijnders away.
“From the boys’ point of view, if I would be in their boots I would be excited like hell,” Klopp added. “Critch and his staff and the boys, I’m sure they’re really looking forward to it. You can only enjoy football if you work hard and go for the result.
“Aston Villa is the big favourite, that’s clear, but who cares? It’s football and the ball rolls in each direction. That’s pretty cool.”