Bill Shankly once said: “A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are”. The League Cup final at Wembley today showed that this current Liverpool squad does not have the belief or the leadership on the pitch to ensure that they become winners. This obvious lack of leadership was personified by the fact that the captain, Jordan Henderson, and the vice-captain, James Milner, did not take any of the first few penalties. This dereliction of duty, at crucial moments, is indicative of the mentality in the squad that Brendan Rodgers assembled.
Klopp’s short tenure so far at Liverpool has felt more like an interim period, with the Brendan Rodgers squad continuing their dismal record in big time games. Since 2014, Liverpool have come up short in season-defining games against Chelsea, Aston Villa and in today’s game against Manchester City. The cold, hard truth is that this current Liverpool squad are not winners.
There is no doubt that the side today battled and kept Manchester City honest. There were glimpses of the famous Liverpool passion when they went behind in the game. This passion papered over the cracks, that an insipid attacking performance, up until the 83rd-minute equalizer had exposed.
There is a distinct lack of flair, class and leadership in the current squad and they are at best a workmanlike side. The current league position lends credence to that analysis. Jürgen Klopp will have a busy summer ahead, and he will need all of his charm in order to entice top players to Anfield.
Liverpool’s starting eleven must be revamped. Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, James Milner and Jordan Henderson should all be upgraded on in the summer and become squad players. The way Kolo Touré, Martin Skrtel, Lucas—despite a strong showing in the cup final—Christian Benteke, Adam Lallana, Joe Allen, and Adam Bogdan are currently playing, they should all be considered surplus to future endeavours.
Optimistically speaking, the imminent arrivals of Joel Matip and Marko Grujic coupled with the returns of the speedy Lazar Markovic, the impressive Joe Gomez, and the industrious Danny Ings will help to reinvigorate the squad.
Defeat to Manchester City is a bitter pill to swallow, especially in a cup final. However, this should be seen as the defining end of the Brendan Rodgers era. Jürgen Klopp must now put his own stamp on this Liverpool squad. He has the track record to suggest that he can fulfil the dreams of the Liverpool supporters. The task ahead for him is difficult but not insurmountable.
Optimism is the watchword of many Liverpool fans. The club anthem celebrates the victory of optimism over difficult times. Since the miracle of Istanbul in 2005, Liverpool fans have indeed lived through storms. It is imperative that Fenway Sports Group financially back Klopp this summer, in order to ensure Liverpool are at the end of the storms, and looking forward to golden skies.