talkSPORT pundit Tony Cascarino has criticised Jurgen Klopp for apparently disrespecting both Aston Villa and the FA Cup in a puzzling rant.
Liverpool progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup on Friday night with a 4-1 victory over a youthful Villa side.
Amid a significant Covid-10 outbreak, Villa fielded a team made up entirely from their Under-23 ranks.
Their young stars exceeded all expectations, managing to go in level at the break with a Liverpool side containing several of their strongest possible starting eleven.
The decision by Klopp to select his superstars has proved divisive. Though with the Reds’ first-team and Under-23s operating in different bubbles, the option to mix and match between experience and youth was not a viable one.
Klopp revealed his squad had been preparing to face Villa’s senior stars all week with news that they would be facing a youthful side not breaking until the day of the game.
Despite this, outspoken pundit Cascarino has taken a dim view of Liverpool’s actions, stating (via talkSPORT): “To be honest, I was a bit disappointed Liverpool didn’t go with an Under-23s team.
“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.”