Jurgen Klopp and Sam Ricketts embracing is something we won’t see at Anfield on Tuesday, with Klopp opting to go on his winter break instead
Weddings and Caribbean holidays, Jurgen Klopp certainly isn’t alone in missing matches.
Immediately after Liverpool’s 2-2 FA Cup draw at Shrewsbury Town, the German said he would not be on the touchline for the replay at Anfield nine days later.
Why? Because he wants to respect the inaugural winter break that the Premier League has introduced this season.
It got us thinking about the other occasions managers have missed games. Here are some of the more quirky reasons.
Sir Alex Ferguson – Manchester United
Future England manager Steve McClaren took charge in Ferguson’s absence
Who better to start with than one of the greatest managers the game has seen?
In 2000, Fergie’s eldest son Mark was getting married in South Africa. Like many devoted football fans, the family forensically studied the fixture schedule to find a free weekend.
They managed to find one on 18 November – a scheduled international break. A Cape Town wedding in November – sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Only problem being, the governing bodies decided to move all the international fixtures to midweek, meaning Manchester United had a game on the Saturday.
It wasn’t just any game either. It was a Manchester derby.
Ferguson said at the time: “It couldn’t have been any worse for me. There’s nothing I can do. Steve McClaren will be in charge.
“The only consolation is that with it being a morning kick-off, I will be able to watch the game in South Africa on television.”
It turned out just fine though, with David Beckham’s second-minute winner enough for the Reds to earn all three points.
Edgar Davids – Barnet
Davids was in charge of Barnet between October 2012 and January 2014
One of the best midfielders of all time and Barnet? The combination never did feel quite right.
The Dutch star initially made a positive impact at the north London side before they eventually dropped out of the Football League.
Davids stayed at the club, assigning himself the number one shirt (who could forget?), but was sent off three times as the Bees spent a season in mid-table.
As part of his contract, he reportedly negotiated a clause that meant he didn’t have to manage a game where an overnight stay beforehand was necessary – assistant Ulrich Landvreugd would take charge instead.
Picking and choosing when you can work? It’s all right if you can get it.
Neil Warnock – Leeds United
Warnock won 23 of his 63 games in charge of Leeds
Everyone gets ill from time to time, and managers are no different.
In January 2013, Warnock was feeling a little bit under the weather and had to leave his assistant Mick Jones in charge for Leeds’ FA Cup third-round game against Birmingham City at Elland Road.
Warnock listened along on the radio as Leeds trailed 1-0 at the break. Cue the experienced gaffer getting on the blower and instructing Jones to make two half-time changes.
Jones went one step further and put Warnock on loud speaker and allowed him to deliver the team talk.
It worked as Luciano Becchio equalised before Leeds went on to win the replay.
If you want a job doing, Neil, do it yourself.
Steve Bruce – Sheffield Wednesday
Bruce was only in charge of Wednesday for 18 games before joining Newcastle
When Bruce was appointed Sheffield Wednesday boss on 2 January, 2019, the club’s statement said he wasn’t joining the club until 1 February and everyone was a bit confused.
It turned out Bruce was in Barbados having a holiday and taking in England playing West Indies in the cricket. What cricket fan doesn’t want to join the Barmy Army on a tour?
The manager was taking some time out of the game to recover from a couple of operations and he’d made a promise to his family that he’d take a break after both of his parents passed away in quick succession in 2018.
“I wouldn’t have taken the job if Sheffield Wednesday were not aware of the situation and what I needed to have done,” Bruce said.
“I was completely open and honest with them when we talked about me taking the job. It is extremely disappointing that people have tried to make something negative out of it.”
Sam Allardyce – Everton
Allardyce won 10 of his 26 games in charge of Everton
Football management can often be a juggling act.
Allardyce wasn’t the most popular person on Merseyside with his appointment in November 2017 disappointing an expectant Everton faithful.
He opened himself up to further criticism shortly after his arrival by not travelling to their Europa League game against Apollon Limassol, so he could spend more time with his first-team squad at their training base before the Merseyside derby that weekend.
The results? A 3-0 win in Cyprus and a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Decision = vindicated.
Martin Gray – Darlington
Gray won 165 of his 258 games in charge of Darlington
A wedding on New Year’s Day? What was Gray thinking? There’s always a match on.
It sounds like poor planning but the 2017 date had been set two years earlier when the Quakers were in a different division.
To make matters worse, Gray’s assistant Brian Atkinson was his best man.
Gray gave the team talk before leaving coach Sean Gregan and chief scout Harry Dunn to take charge of the National League North fixture away at Halifax, which finished 2-2.
A decent day all round.
Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool
Klopp has been criticised by some people for missing the game
It’s worth remembering that it’s not the first time that the German has missed a first-team fixture this season.
He also missed December’s 5-0 Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat against Aston Villa because he needed to be in Qatar the following day for the Club World Cup game against Monterrey.
Will they fare better this time and take a step closer to winning the Treble?