Jurgen Klopp has bizarrely been told that he should have "respected what's happened" at Aston Villa and fielded a Liverpool under-23 side for Friday night's FA Cup third round tie.
With Villa manager Dean Smith and his entire first-team squad kept away from the tie due to a coronavirus outbreak at the club, a young Villa side took on the Premier League champions at Villa Park.
Many had predicted a huge win for the Reds, particularly after Sadio Mane scored early on, but Villa's youngsters performed admirably and managed to grab an equaliser just before half-time through 17-year-old forward Louie Barry.
Liverpool, who predictably dominated possession and won 29-2 on the shot count, struck three times in five minutes in the second half to eventually run out as 4-1 winners, with first-team stars Gini Wijnaldum and Mo Salah joining Mane on the scoresheet as the Senegalese bagged a brace.
The fact that Villa would be fielding a team of youngsters was only finally confirmed on Friday morning when the youthful squad, managed by former Wales defender Mark Delaney, all passed their coronavirus tests.
After the match Klopp said that Liverpool had been preparing to face Villa's first-team, and he was full of praise for the efforts of the young players, particularly Barry whom he dubbed a "little Jamie Vardy" after the match.
With Liverpool's first-team and youth squads operating in different covid 'bubbles' it would have been impossible for Klopp to field a mix and match side featuring squad players and young talents.
But speaking on talkSPORT, the former Villa forward Tony Cascarino says the Liverpool boss should have reduced the age of his team in order for them to be at the same level.
“To be honest, I was a bit disappointed Liverpool didnt go with an Under-23s team,” said Cascarino.
“There will be many supporters around the country who would disagree with me on this, but I was wanting it to be on a level playing field.
“I didn’t want Liverpool to have Champions League-winning players to go against a Villa team that was more like Under-18s, actually, than Under-23s.
“I would have loved if Jurgen Klopp had gone, ‘you know what, just because we’re Liverpool and we respect what’s happened at Villa Park, we’ll go with Under-23s too’.
“I wanted that to happen.
“I get why they didn’t, because it’s a competition Klopp feels they can win so he went strong so he could win the game.
“Listen, I might be wrong on this, because Villa players might have learned a lot from playing against a quality opposition with a lot of top players, and I’m sure they did.
“That’s the standard they’re looking at, that’s what they’ve got to get to and it’s a massive gap between where they are in their careers at the top level, so I get that side of it. That was the one benefit for the Villa youngsters.
“And every mum and dad that watched their son play on the telly would have been really proud of their performance.
“So I understand why Liverpool did it, I’m just not 100 per cent behind it.”
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