On Sunday, Manchester City and Liverpool go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup final as both teams hope to earn their first trophies of the campaign. For Pellegrini’s side, it could be the start of their attempt to claim a domestic double as they still fight for the Premier League title as well as progression in the Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp could claim his first trophy since moving to England and would certainly make his first season a success despite their struggle in the Premier League. Liverpool could bag their ninth Capital One Cup trophy if they come out on top, with their last coming in 2012 under Kenny Dalglish. Their last Wembley victory was that cup win four years and it came during a season where they lost the FA Cup final against Chelsea, shortly before ‘King Kenny’ was given the sack.
It may not be an iconic title, but any trophy would be a welcome achievement in the eyes of the Liverpool fans and would certainly cast a positive haze over Klopp’s first season in England. Before their League Cup victory in 2012, Liverpool’s last major trophy came in their FA Cup final win over a West Ham in 2006. It’s been a long haul at Anfield since the famous European nights of 2005 and 2007 and Liverpool fans haven’t had much success to cheer about.
Under Brendan Rodgers, the Reds enjoyed a successful Premier League campaign during the 2013–14 season and came close to winning the title for the first time in almost 25 years. But they had nothing to show for it and it was yet another trophy-less campaign.
In contrast, Manchester City have enjoyed success in recent years since the arrival of their billionaire owners and increased investment into the club. Pellegrini secured the Premier League title during his first season and added the Capital One Cup for good measure. Two years on, the Chillean has another chance to win the first trophy he earned whilst at Manchester City and the opportunity to lift silverware before his send off at the end of the season.
Jurgen Klopp could kick-start his Liverpool managerial career with the same trophy that began Pellegrini’s time at Manchester City. Although it may not be considered a major title, the Capital One Cup has recently become a competition managers take seriously. Jose Mourinho’s appreciation for the cup was well known; like Pellegrini, it was his first title in England. More recently, Liverpool’s previous manager, Brendan Rodgers, also put great importance in the cup. It could be a symbolic victory for Klopp’s Liverpool and if this make-shift side can earn silverware under his guidance, it shows great promise for the future.
The German boss has shown faith and confidence in many of Liverpool’s youngsters throughout the competition so far. The young Reds have had their fair share of obstacles to overcome too. They needed victories against Bournemouth, Southampton and Stoke to reach the final in Wembley at the end of the month – all tough fixtures. Not only will it be a statement from Klopp, to open his trophy account within a year of coming to Merseyside, it will be a great reflection of the determination and quality of Liverpool’s youngsters who did so well to get the team into the final.
With Premier League struggles continuing and a recent exit from the FA Cup, Liverpool will be focusing on success in the Europa League. However, victory on Sunday would take pressure off the side – giving them something to celebrate at the end of the season, despite on-going demands in the league. In summary, it doesn’t change much, Liverpool still have rebuilding to do and development is needed under the new management, but Capital One Cup victory will be a great start and could symbolise a new positive era under Jurgen Klopp.