Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp defended his decision to select an inexperienced line-up after his side were held to a goalless draw by Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round.
Klopp picked the youngest XI in Liverpool’s history with an average age of 21 years and 296 days against the fourth-tier side, who are 68 places below them in the English football pyramid.
The Reds failed to break down a disciplined and determined Plymouth team and after the Anfield stalemate, they face the prospect of a tricky replay away to the south-west England club in 10 days’ time.
“I don’t think the line-up was a mistake, but you can see it like this if you want,” Klopp told journalists after Sunday’s game.
“We made mistakes in the game and as it is always with the boys, the good things they are responsible for and the bad ones, I am.
“If you want to see it in a bad way then I am 100 percent responsible. I have no problem with it. I take it even if we played a fuller squad.
“I always choose line-ups to win the game and I accept that was not in all situations to see, but in a lot of it, it was.
“All the boys deserved their place. We didn’t think a second about the age. They are important players in our squad and that is how we use them.”
Klopp acknowledged the tie had not captivated the imagination and sardonically lamented the prospect of a 600-mile (965-kilometre) round trip down to Plymouth for the replay.
Home Park ‘not luxurious’
“It was boring, it was like this,” said Klopp, whose side travel to Southampton on Wednesday for the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.
“I really am happy that the Liverpool crowd didn’t leave after 60 minutes because it wasn’t the most exciting game.
“They did everything they had to do to deserve a rematch and now we have it. Yippee!
“The biggest challenge in football is to play a defending side. Maybe Plymouth in this moment is happy, for sure they are.
“They deserved the rematch. I don’t know if at home they can play the same defensive style.”
Plymouth manager Derek Adams felt the achievement of his side in keeping a clean sheet against Liverpool was the highlight of the day given the respective budgets and standings of the two clubs.
“It’s one of the best defensive performances that Anfield has ever seen,” Adams said.
“We defended deep, in numbers, we allowed Liverpool to have the ball. That was our game-plan. You have to avoid good players having space and time.
“We stopped them scoring. There are only a few teams who have come to Anfield in recent times and drawn 0-0. Plymouth are one of them. We are a League Two side.
“This was about a team performance. We had 13 players who all deserve credit and they all worked extremely hard to get this result.”
Adams also warned Liverpool they will not enjoy the same comfort as at Anfield in the replay at Argyle’s modest Home Park ground.
“The dressing rooms are not as luxurious as they are here,” he said. “We are in a Portakabin. Welcome to the real world.”