Cape Town - Jurgen Klopp was in contact with the Liverpool youngsters
before and after their historic 1-0 replay win over Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup
The manager and his squad were, somewhat controversially,
absent on their scheduled mid-season break but the German still maintained
contact with the coaching staff and the players and had an able deputy in James
Milner offering his experience and expertise at close quarters.
While his team-mates are currently on holiday, Liverpool's
veteran midfielder has remained at home for a few extra days to continue his
rehabilitation from a hamstring injury before he takes a break but wanted to
offer his support in a more substantial way.
"He trained with us yesterday and he asked whether he
could come along. I think the answer is 'Yes, of course, you can.' It was very
respectful to ask," said under-23s coach Neil Critchley, who led the team
at Anfield in Klopp's absence.
"He then said, 'Can I come in the dressing room?'. What
do you think? 'Of course,'.
"He was giving words of advice; he was getting right
behind the players. He was vocal in the dressing room. He was animated. He was
vocal behind me; I could hear him.
"He was genuinely delighted at how the boys performed
and I can't thank him enough."
Klopp, as he did back in December when he was away with the
first team at the Club World Cup in Qatar, watched the game from afar and
offered his backing via phone.
"The boss was in touch this afternoon with some words
of advice and encouragement," added Critchley after former Manchester
United academy graduate Ro-Shaun Williams' own goal settled the tie midway
through the second half.
"We had a message from the staff that he is delighted
with the performance and is buzzing. We have given him a game against Chelsea
to look forward to.
"He just gives you total clarity, belief, play the
Liverpool way, (and) go for it. And that is what the first team do. This is us;
this is how we play; this is what we stand for and you had better be ready for
Liverpool's starting line-up had an average age of 19 years
and 102 days, contained three debutants and had 36 senior appearances between
them yet they dominated a game and fully deserved their victory and a lap of
honour in front of a sell-out 53 000 crowd.
"We played the game with real maturity. I was really
impressed with how we stood up to the physical side of the game, first balls,
second balls, much better than the Aston Villa game," added Critchley.
"Over 90 minutes we had the better chances and were
just about the deserved winners."