Less than five months into his reign as Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp is determined to make the most of a chance to get some early silverware in the cabinet when the Merseysiders ake on Manchester City in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final. Sitting in ninth place in the Premier League, it is clear that his new side remains very much a work in progress as they aim to get back to their previous lofty heights. But Klopp, who will be returning to Wembley as a manager for the first time since losing the 2013 Champions League final to Bayern Munich when in charge of Borussia Dortmund, believes lifting a trophy could be a huge boost toward meeting their goals.
“I am long enough in the business to know I am greedy for success,” he said ahead of the final, according to Liverpool’s official website. “For sure we will go to the final and try and achieve this. It is more important for the club, the crowd and the players. Lots of managers work their whole life and never get the chance to win trophies. After a short time we have that chance.
“Clubs with a big history like Liverpool, it is always the same problem if they are not successful in the present. With the right decisions and then the right patience you can get back on track. This win would help. It would help to win the Capital One Cup but it is not the only possibility for everyone to believe in this way.”
To understand the importance of getting his hands on some silverware, Klopp only has to look as far as his predecessor Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irishman departed last October amid growing criticism, having gone more than three years without a trophy.
Liverpool will certainly have history on their side on Sunday, having won the trophy a record eight times, most recently in Kenny Dalglish’s sole full season back in charge in 2011/2012.
Liverpool only made it back to the final in dramatic circumstances after emerging victorious in a penalty shootout with Stoke City after their semifinal final ended 1-1 on aggregate. It was a narrow victory, too, that took Klopp’s side into the last 16 of the Europa League, and onto a meeting with Manchester United, after edging past Augsburg.
The fixture on Thursday means Liverpool will have had one less day to prepare for the first major final of the English season. But, unlike Manchester City, they had the advantage of being at home. City, meanwhile, had to travel back from Ukraine, where they beat Dynamo Kiev 3-1 to put themselves in a commanding position to move onto the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time.
With City also taking on Liverpool in the Premier League next Wednesday, in what is a key fixture as the Manchester club aim to make up the gap to the top of the table, it is a crucial period in Manuel Pellegrini’s final season in charge. Still, it is hard to envisage the Chilean rotating his lineup to anything like the same degree he did last Sunday, when he fielded five debutants and six teenagers in a 5-1 FA Cup defeat to Chelsea.
“It’s a very important week,” Pellegrini said in his pre-match press conference. “We won the first leg but it’s not finished even though that was an important result playing away and now we hope to qualify at home.
“To play a big final at Wembley against Liverpool is very important too. It’s my mentality to try to win all the time. To win in February one title that gives you a lot of trust to continue fighting for other competitions. We are six points behind the leaders in the Premier League and we will continue to fight to the end—this could give us a lot of trust if we are successful on Sunday.”
Pellegrini added that he expects captain Vincent Kompany, as well as Raheem Sterling and Bacary Sagna, to be fit for the final, despite all training separately on Friday. He will also have Wilfried Bony and Jesus Navas back at his disposal. Liverpool remain without a host of first-team players, including Adam Lallana, Joe Allen and Martin Skrtel, while Dejan Lovren is unlikely to be rushed straight back into battle. They should, though, have Daniel Sturridge fit to start, after he started for a third straight game on Thursday.
Prediction: The last time the sides met, Liverpool emerged emphatic 4-1 winners at the Etihad in November after a superb display from Klopp’s side. If Liverpool can repeat the intensity without the ball and the purpose and movement with the ball they showcased on that occasion then they can certainly upset Manchester City at Wembley. Much will depend on whether City can match Liverpool’s work rate and allow their greater quality to shine through. After the impressive win in midweek, City should be flying high and have just enough to land the trophy. However, it is unlikely to be straightforward.
Predicted score: Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool
Kickoff time: 11:30 a.m. EST
TV channel: beIN Sports
Live stream: beIN Sports Connect