Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is adamant he has to take a stand over the mid-winter break and FA Cup replays or nothing will change in the future.
The Reds boss has drawn criticism for announcing neither his first-team players nor himself will be present for the fourth-round replay at home to Shrewsbury next week as it falls within their scheduled Premier League break.
Instead the club will send out a youth team led by Under-23 coach Neil Critchley.
“We have done it to make the stance clear,” Klopp said. “If we react how we always react and find a way to do it, then nothing will change.
“I have to make decisions that aren’t popular, based on the situation we are in.
“Because we plan long-term I cannot plan when there is a real decisive period coming up. I decided three weeks ago we would have a mid-season break based on a letter we got in April 2019.
“The FA tried to move games to midweek to decrease the intense period. Whoever was involved in that – maybe from us – they forgot to say no.”
There has been specific criticism aimed at Klopp’s decision not to attend the match, but he said that showed how little people understood the dynamics of a team.
“Could I be here for it? Of course, but it is a misunderstanding of coaching,” he added.
“I cannot just show up for it within two days. They need their coach and that is Critch.
“If people think I’m lazy because I’m not there, I’m not interested.”
Klopp did, at least, have some relatively good news on the injury front with forward Sadio Mane only likely to be missing for another two matches.
The Senegal international missed Sunday’s game – although it is doubtful he would have played any way – after sustaining a muscle tear, but his absence will not be too long.
“Sadio will not be involved for West Ham and probably not Southampton,” said the Reds boss.
“After that he will be back on track. He has a small muscle tear which is serious enough. We were lucky with it, though, it wasn’t too serious. He’s out for three games.”