David Preece: However the likes of Liverpool treat the FA Cup - it will always be the smaller clubs who keep it alive

There’s no arguing that England’s cups have lost their shine and no amount of Brasso will ever revive them to their once glorious stature.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 7:00 pm
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager.

I’m not saying anything new here, I know. Our knockout competitions have been gradually eroded by the weakened teams put out on to the pitch by managers prioritising league placing over silverware.

It’s not just Premier League sides who see the cups as a chance to reward those short of playing time with some much-needed minutes in their legs either but it’s mostly these big clubs who see FA Cup and League Cup games as frivolous. To some, they’re just a plain nuisance.

The aristocrats aren’t just refusing to do these menial tasks and waving in their underlings to do their dirty work for them, they’re not even bothering to turn up to act as foreman as they do it.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I’m not as outraged as some at Jurgen Klopp’s dismissal of Liverpool’s FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town though. I can see it from a couple of perspectives.

From a development point of view, not only is it another chance for their youngsters to build on the experiences gained in the EFL Cup, it’s also a wonderful chance for coach Neil Critchley to step into Klopp’s shoes for the evening and enhance his own development.

In an ideal world, you’d play half a team of youngsters mixed with older heads with Klopp giving the orders but what he is doing is bringing a little bit more of a German influence to English football by taking a step back and allowing others to take the reigns. And why’s that?

It’s because unlike in Germany, rarely is there a clear and objective pathway for academy coaches to progress from the bottom end of the coaching ladder up to the top job.

Klopp’s former team Borussia Dortmund is perfect example of a system that not only produces players, but coaches too.

There’ll always be coaches who excels at that developmental stage, who are brilliant at handling young footballers and should stay at that job. And they should be rewarded accordingly too and not seen as “just” academy coaches.

Like it or not, Klopp is giving opportunity to other coaches to shine on a bigger stage and auditioning themselves to a national audience.

These are the coaches who mostly fly under the radar of your average football fan and the light shining on them is deserved recognition of their manager’s faith in them.

The model gives the club stability in these days of billion pound assemblies, it’s refreshing to see likes of 18-year-old Curtis Jones who has been at the club since he was 9-years-old being given the chance to hold their own against far more experienced players.

Isn’t this what we want? Isn’t the cry always of young English players being crowded out by their more expensive, more experienced counterparts and never getting a fair crack of the whip?

I still might never have played for Sunderland even if my managers here had taken the route of resting players but I’d have given my right arm to have played in the first round of the Rumbelows Cup at Roker Park.

Granted, it might have cost me my career and a life living with a prosthetic limb but I was so desperate to play back then, it would have been a deal with the devil I’d shake hands on.

Yet even if young players are still just as desperate to play, attitudes to national cup competitions has changed.

That, I’m afraid, is not just football but life itself.

Cup competitions die and fade away but the game evolves and lives on. No, FA Cup Final day isn’t what it used to be but neither is Soccer AM and there are no characters left in the game either.

Don’t worry though. The FA Cup isn’t dead just yet.

However the big clubs treat the FA Cup, it will always be the smaller clubs who keep it alive.