The match won’t be one to remember for Liverpool. In an odd twist, the Liverpool U21s were tasked with taking on Aston Villa at Villa Park in the Carabao Cup while their more seasoned counterparts headed across the world to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. It was always a big ask of the kids, and unfortunately that became abundantly clear when the Reds found themselves down by two within the first 20 minutes.
Neil Critchley, the Liverpool U23 manager, was charged with overseeing the match in place of Klopp, who is with the rest of the team in Qatar. He maintains that his team, made up of mostly teenagers, did him proud on the big stage despite the heavy defeat.
“I’m incredibly proud of that performance,” Critchley said. “I thought for large periods we were well in the game. I thought the start to the game was brilliant and I think we were actually the better team for the first 12 or 13 minutes and then obviously we concede from a wide free-kick which we could’ve done a little bit better with.
“And then the second one is a real cruel deflection and you find yourself 2-0 down scratching your head and thinking ‘I’m not sure how we are 2-0 down’. I don’t think we did too many things wrong in the game.
“At half-time we spoke about the things that would be important to us in the second half and I thought we came out and gave a really good account of ourselves in the second half as well.”
It’s never fun to see the Reds lose, especially not that badly, but I don’t think anyone is going to be terribly disappointed about the time that frees up in their hectic schedule. As someone once said, we go again, and this time sooner than usual. Liverpool kick-off in Qatar on Wednesday for the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup against Monterrey, and they’ll look to put in a better showing this time around.