Were Jose Mourinho's FA Cup comments a dig at Jurgen Klopp?
2017 has been, quite frankly, nightmarish for Liverpool.
At Christmas the Reds were sitting in second spot in the Premier League table and were competing in two Cups but, in the space of a few weeks, they find themselves out of the running for any silverware this season.
In three days, Jurgen Klopp witnessed his side crash out of the Capital One Cup thanks to a pair of defeats to Southampton before they dropped out of the FA Cup at the hands of Championship side Wolves.
Klopp named the below XI for the FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Wolves and supporters' concerns about the strength of the team proved wise as Liverpool fell to a 2-1 defeat.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 28, 2017
Suggestions were made that Klopp hadn't respected the FA Cup as much as he perhaps should as he clearly prioritised the next Premier League game, a clash against table-topping Chelsea, by resting a number of first-team players.
That makes Jose Mourinho's pre-match comments ahead of Manchester United's FA Cup fifth round meeting with Blackburn all the more interesting as it certainly sounds like the United boss has taken a thinly veiled dig at Klopp.
“Maybe we don’t have as many managers in England with that culture as we should,” said Mourinho, with quotes appearing in the Liverpool Echo.
“Maybe we foreign managers, not everybody studies and understands the culture of this country. It’s because of attitude. Because you think it’s easy – and it’s not easy.
“With Chelsea, I lost against a League One or League Two team, but I never threw it away.
“So I always try to go serious. I like Wembley. I like the FA Cup.”
Mourinho insisted that he learned a valuable lesson in 2005 when he fielded a weakened team for an FA Cup game so that his first-team players would be well-rested for an upcoming Champions League match.
“Yes, I threw it away,” said Mourinho. “In the same week was the Champions League against Barcelona and the cup final against Liverpool and in the middle of it we had an FA Cup match against Newcastle and I threw it away. I gambled too much.
“I focused too much on Barcelona and Liverpool. It was good because we beat Barcelona and won the final against Liverpool.
“But the feeling that I threw it away was not good. So I don’t throw it away.”