Jurgen Klopp watched his youthful Liverpool side suffer an FA Cup scare at Exeter and claimed they need to be more “robust”.
Klopp’s line-up included three debutants and just 135 appearances between them as he made 11 changes to the side that defeated Stoke 1-0 on Tuesday night in the League Cup.
They were behind twice and came within 18 minutes of becoming the first Liverpool side ever to lose to fourth tier opposition in the FA Cup. Goals from Jerome Sinclair and Brad Smith rescued a 2-2 draw and a third-round replay at Anfield.
“It’s obvious what we have to learn in the future. We have to be more robust., ” Klopp told the BBC, whose side remain fifth favourites at 9/1 to win the competition.
“It was a difficult pitch. Exeter did really well. Maybe they know which part of the pitch you can play football. It was really difficult for us today. On one-on-one situations they were more robust than our guys.
“The first goal was unlucky for us – it was their first attack. I won’t say anything about the second goal – they showed it live on the BBC.
“I can’t believe we have to play another game now. You want it like this so we will be there.
“I mixed some of the team together and you say ‘show me the future’. It can’t be the future. The players helped us in our situation.”
Liverpool have never lost to fourth-tier opposition in the FA Cup before but Nichols felt his side deserved a second chance at Anfield.
“I thought the boys were brilliant,” he said. “I thought we thoroughly deserved a draw. We didn’t park the bus, we gave it a right go and we’ve got a trip to Anfield.”
On his goal, he added: “I’d been doing some work with our coaches the day before, they were saying ‘you’ve got to run quicker into the box’, it was a great ball in and I got on the end of it.
“It was a great start, it was a shame we couldn’t hang on but we’ve got a trip to Anfield.
“The fans have been different class for the past four or five games, the atmosphere was unbelievable.”