Jurgen Klopp’s decision to play a weakened side in Liverpool’s FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury on Tuesday has been the topic of heavy criticism.
The first match between the pair ended 2-2, with Shrewsbury coming back from two goals down to secure a trip to Anfield, with Everton fan Callum Lang likely to lead the line.
Many ex-players and pundits alike have condemned the German’s decision to not play the first team and leave the managerial position to Under 23’s boss Neil Critchley.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes the side want a two-week holiday, that wouldn’t be good enough for Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.
But, he and many others are missing the point. Klopp’s decision is more than this game, more than Liverpool and more than the FA Cup in general.
To be frank, any blame that is directed at the situation should be at the FA.
Them taking the high ground and releasing a statement going against Klopp’s stance is very typical of the governing body that does little, but oddly stands at the top of the sport’s hierarchy.
The necessity of smaller teams needing the FA Cup financially all points towards the FA.
Revenue in the sport has increased to such a high demand that the sport cannot afford to have such fragmented governing bodies that the FA have allowed to happen.
Usually, they can shift the blame to the most wealthy clubs in England and pretend like they are the body for all football, starting at grassroots, but that couldn’t be further than the truth.
Over the past few decades, we have seen them do very little to tackle social issues in the sport and for them to blame Premier League clubs for the disparity is ludicrous.
They sucked into the global phenomenon of the sport and progressed it onto the English game, where it has gone too far and problems like we saw last year at Bury is just the start unfortunately.
They can usually rely on the perception of the overpaid shtick that always hangs over the head of players to usually seem as a association for the people, but in turn, they allowed the sport to run away from themselves for monetary gain.
So yes, the FA Cup is becoming monetarily useless to the top clubs in the sport and the reputation it once had is dropping, but the FA have done that to their own trophy.
Although a by-product of the modern game, the FA has done nothing but sit back, let it happen and promote it.
More specifically about Tuesday’s game, they carved out a winter break to backtrack on the excessive amount of games players participate in because of their demand for increased activity.
To backtrack on that decision is pointless and yet another example of a narrow-minded, rash decision by Mark Bullingham and Co.
Unfortunately for Shrewsbury, they get their cup magic taken away for them on Tuesday, but the FA are to blame for that, not Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
Liverpool don’t owe the FA a ‘favour’ and nor should their dismissal of Liverpool work.
The FA cannot act like they care about smaller teams when they have consistently done everything in their power and acceptance to drop their importance.
Jurgen Klopp’s FA Cup decision is more than just the competition and Shrewsbury. Those two are just the unfortunate by-products of the decision that underlines a fragmented monetary system that is in desperate need of change.
A change that should start with the competition’s founders.