Liverpool are set to face West Ham on Wednesday in a match that had to be rescheduled due to Liverpool’s involvement in the Club Wold Cup in December, but it’s another bit of fixture congestion getting all the talk ahead of the game.
At his pre-match press conference, many in the media were more interested in Liverpool’s FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury, set to take place during the Reds’ mid-season break and as a result a game that won’t feature senior players.
“We planed this long term,” Jürgen Klopp noted of the break, set by the Premier League last season, and his decision to give senior players a holiday. “I decided three weeks ago we would have a break based on a letter we got in April 2019.”
When the league decided on a mid-season break, the goal was to lessen the workload on players—it was the league recognising that top leagues in general, and England in particular, have a problem with overworking their players.
As a result, the league requested that clubs schedule no friendlies or other games during their breaks. Until last month, Klopp had been considering a mid-season warm weather training camp of the sort he has undertaken in past years.
Instead, given how much his team has played and that they spent a week in Qatar at the Club World Cup in December, he chose to give his players a week off. Asking them to play Shrewsbury would be wrong—and go against the league’s wishes.
“I don’t want to be in the middle of these discussions,” Klopp added when pressed on his decision to skip the replay. “If people think I am lazy to not be there I cannot change that and I’m not interested, but I absolutely feel responsible for my players.
“If we find a way to play then nothing will change and things have to change. Most times in my life I worked or played for lower league teams. Replays can’t be the answer. Shrewsbury could have won a penalty shoot-out and gone through.”