Shrewsbury and Liverpool’s fourth-round tie a little over a week ago saw the magic of the FA Cup in action: plucky lower league minnows doing battle with Premier League royalty and pulling a result out of the proverbial top drawer. The Shrews’ comeback earned them a money-spinning replay at Anfield on Tuesday night, but thanks to Jurgen the Grinch that’s where the magic dies a miserable death.
The referee had barely finished blowing the full-time whistle when Reds manager Jurgen Klopp revealed the U-23s would be sent out to contest the replay, as the first-team squad had been given this week off training as part of their winter break.
As a result the U23s manager, Neil Critchley, will be in the dugout in place of Klopp, as according to the German they “need their coach”. Even more remarkably, Klopp revealed he won’t even bother popping over to Anfield to watch the inconvenient tie in person.
Which begs the question: just what would he rather be doing instead?
1. Work out how he can sack off the Carabao Cup
If Klopp sees the FA Cup as a mere unwanted distraction, he must surely think the Carabao Cup as some kind of sick joke the authorities play on top clubs for a laugh. It would make perfect sense for Klopp to use the time gained from skipping the replay to plot how he can torpedo the even more annoying knockout competition next season.
Perhaps he could field the U-16s team from the off rather than the reserves to give the new generation some experience? It’d work, but what would be far more entertaining would be sending out the team with the aim of getting five players sent off and the game abandoned. You know, just like you used to do when throwing a strop on Pro Evo.
2. Plan Liverpool’s title parade
With the Reds sitting a frankly ludicrous 22 points clear atop the Premier League, the championship is all but theirs. Even they will find it impossible to bottle from this point! And as it is patently clear for the world to see, ending 30 years of title hurt matters far more to the club than taking the FA Cup seriously.
So with a night to himself, Klopp can get his hands dirty helping to plan the title parade, ringing around his favourite heavy metal bands to see if they fancy playing it. Or at least anyone that is happy to just play that poxy nabbed “Allez Allez Allez” song on a loop all night.
3. Help James Milner do his ironing
There’s no doubt that the experience and versatility of James Milner has played a crucial role in helping Liverpool get into the dominant position they find themselves in. But at the age of 34, he’s getting on and is one of the players most in need of putting up his feet during the winter break.
We know that Milner is the antithesis to the up-all-night, drunk-on-Sky-Sports-News footballer; a night in catching up on his ironing is his idea of heaven. With Klopp forgoing his managerial duties, he can pop over to James’ and flatten his shirts and underkecks for him. He can’t risk the iron falling on his star veteran’s foot after all.
4. Get more cosmetic work done
Perhaps inspired by The Real Housewives of Cheshire, there’s just something about the Liverpool hotseat that makes its occupants want to go on a journey of self-improvement. We saw it with Brendan Rodgers’ boxfit inspired weight loss and blindingly bright teeth bleaching. Then Klopp himself treated himself to a set of shiny new veneers back in 2017.
But it doesn’t have to stop there for Jurgen. He can make the most of his free time by getting this teeth touched up, or even take on a bit of laser eye surgery. Although the latter would leave him blinded for the day, that would actually be a positive thing if the Liverpool reserves end up getting embarrassed by the League One outfit.
5. Apply for EU Settled Status
Jurgen Klopp, along with 48 per cent of the Great Britain, is not a fan of Brexit. But much to their chagrin, at 11pm last Friday Nigel Farage cracked open the fizz (zy can of bitter) and Big Ben’s pre-recorded bongs rang out as the UK officially withdrew from the European Union.
The law now states that EU citizens living in the UK must submit an application to stay there beyond June 2021. Given the youthful, all-conquering nature of his Liverpool side at the moment, we presume Jurgen is planning on sticking around for the long haul. So he may as well use his bonus night off to fill in those pesky government forms.
Obviously there shouldn’t be any problems with the German’s application. Well, unless he suffers the gross misfortune of his forms landing on the desk of a particularly bitter Man Utd or Everton fan, anyway…