The decision to allow Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah to attend the Confederation of African Football Player of the Year awards in Ghana just a day before our FA Cup clash with rivals Everton on Friday 5th January can only be described as madness.
Named on a three-man shortlist for the award alongside Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the duo face an 18-hour, 7000-mile round trip, yet Reds’ boss Jürgen Klopp has granted them permission to attend.
The club is currently trying to arrange a private jet for the trip but I don’t care if they head there and back in Doctor Who’s TARDIS, the decision has left me baffled.
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This fixture is massive! It’s been almost 6 years since Liverpool won a trophy, that being the League Cup, and almost 12 years since Liverpool last won the FA Cup. We are continually told that the Premier League and Champions League must, of course, remain our priorities but we should not dismiss the FA Cup and we certainly should not dismiss the importance of beating Everton.
‘We must finish in the Top 4’, ‘We need the Champions League money’, ‘The lucrative Champions League’. Does this club only exist to win money now or does it exist to win trophies?
Jürgen Klopp may not see the importance of the FA Cup or local rivalry, as shown by the way he approached the last Merseyside derby, but the majority of fans do. He got the last one wrong. The next one is a chance to put that right.
With Liverpool having no other games for 9 days after the Everton cup tie, I had hoped to see a full strength team deployed against them. We are told the squad is good enough and Mané and Salah could still play important roles but they will miss key preparations. If this decision backfires, I will be truly gutted.
We’re not going to win the Premier League and only the best team in Europe will win the Champions League. Nobody remembers finishing 4th but they do remember Cup finals. The FA Cup remains silverware that genuine football fans still care about. Whether we lift it or not, putting Everton in their place on January 5th would still give us something to smile about.
The club has become obsessed with pleasing everyone and everything but the people that actually matter. Instead of marching with every group of diversity, how about we march towards Wembley instead?