Neil Humphreys: Juergen Klopp must take charge of FA Cup replay
Reds boss insists on 'respecting' winter break, but he must also respect opposition
Juergen Klopp has thoroughly earned his bottomless well of goodwill, but he has chosen to take a dip in the reserves.
His decision to skip the FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town, as it falls within the English Premier League's new winter break, reeks of entitlement.
Klopp is not the entitled type, but he must be aware that the optics are all over the place on this one.
Empathy is hard to come by.
As Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts revealed that replay revenue will allow the League One club to pay for better pitch drainage, Klopp has decided he cannot interrupt his break to coach the kids.
Under-23 coach Neil Critchley will take charge, a thankless task he was previously handed for last month's 5-0 League Cup quarter-final defeat by Aston Villa.
But those circumstances were different. Liverpool's Club World Cup duties clashed with their League Cup tie.
Even the messianic Klopp cannot be in two places at once.
But he could return for the FA Cup fourth-round replay, scheduled for Feb 4, without disrupting the first team's winter break as the Reds are without an EPL game that week.
But Klopp has drawn a line in the sand, clearly incensed at the infuriating lack of co-ordination between the EPL , the Football Association and even Uefa and Fifa, when the other tournaments are factored in.
The football authorities' bureaucratic intransigence - not to mention their greed - are worthy of protest, but Klopp has picked the wrong game to go on strike.
In effect, he is punishing the people who matter most - the fans and the club's young players.
The German's insistence that he has to "respect" the EPL winter break rings hollow if a similar courtesy is not extended to the Anfield faithful.
Reds fans are presumably expected to pay full price for half a performance.
Klopp's anger is justified, but feels misdirected.
He could target Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip, after the seasoned centre-backs somehow conspired to play as if less experienced than their teenaged teammates in Liverpool's 2-2 draw at Shrewsbury yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Fabinho's inability to get a grip on a midfield dominated by men sitting in 16th position in League One and Divock Origi's attacking indecision were also worthy of censure.
Liverpool threw away a two-goal cushion against mediocre opposition.
They had an off-day. It happens. Suck it up and move on.
But Klopp has not, on this occasion.
He is coming off like a rich kid complaining that there are not enough hours in the day to play with his vast toy collection.
Liverpool have played 38 games already, literally becoming the tired victims of their own success, and there is always that 30-year-old monkey on their back to grapple with.
The Reds are so close to their first league title since 1990 that they can almost touch it.
The jug-eared trophy is an all-consuming obsession. All other concerns are understandably secondary.
But they are not irrelevant concerns. Just as Liverpool are not the only side involved.
Ricketts has surely earned the opportunity to sit across from Klopp at Anfield, rather than an underling.
There is a world beyond the top four and their eternal fixture complaints.
When tempers cool, Klopp will hopefully realise that resting the entire first team just about falls within the parameters of fair play, but effectively resting the manager is as unprecedented as it is disrespectful.
By all means, take up the fixture congestion with the competing football bodies.
Then take a plane back to Liverpool and give the supporters, the young, impressionable Reds in the dressing room and everyone associated with Shrewsbury the respect that they deserve.
Klopp stands at the precipice of greatness now. He is just months away from joining Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish and establishing a domestic dynasty for the first time in four decades.
He really does not need to do this. He can rise above the squabbling, turn up and stop the FA Cup replay from turning into a one-man protest.
Remember what the sign says. This is Anfield, not the Speakers' Corner.