Jurgen Klopp got it pretty much spot on during one of the many interviews he’s given in his three months as Liverpool manager.
Speaking to Sky Sports in a cosy chat broadcast over Christmas, the German – still wearing that same affable grin and engaging expression, for this was pre-West Ham – spoke of how success in the League Cup would be all well and good for his Liverpool side this season, but that it would then be swiftly forgotten about by pretty much everyone else.
Citing the Reds’ success in this competition under Kenny Dalglish in 2012 – when they muddled past Cardiff City on penalties at Wembley – Klopp spoke of how he had to look up the details of that victory, so minor was it in the wider football landscape.
Going further still, Klopp used Arsenal’s back-to-back FA Cups in the last two years as another example of success which was obviously welcomed, but wasn’t exactly the culmination of Arsene Wenger’s efforts. That remains the Premier League title, and then one day the Champions League. Bigger battles always lie ahead.
Liverpool are by far and away the most successful club in League Cup history with eight wins, at least three more than anyone else (Aston Villa and Chelsea have five), but those victories are never really gloried in.
The first four all came in consecutive years in the early 1980s as simply an extension of their dominance of English football, whilst the latter four have been scattered around since 1995 – giving supporters a brief glimpse of silverware whilst the league championship trophy resided elsewhere, usually Old Trafford.
Crucially though, the finals allowed those supporters grand days out, be they at Wembley or Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. They could enjoy the traditional preserve of the greatest clubs in the land, even if the biggest prize in English football has remained out of reach since 1990.
In that sense, the League Cup has been very good to Liverpool over the past two and a half decades, and in order to calm what are very real and mounting fears about the current state of the club, it might need to be so again.
This isn’t meant to heap pressure on Klopp ahead of tonight’s semi-final first leg at Stoke at all, for there are enough people out there who are only too willing to do that.
Such is the way that football media works, you are never too far away from a ‘Liverpool Are Actually Worse Under Jurgen Klopp Than They Were Under Brendan Rodgers’ piece of clickbait in the aftermath of a disappointing result overseen by a man who signed zero of the players he currently manages, but there is little doubt that the reality of what he walked into has dawned on Klopp over the last month.
Liverpool retain the look of a rundown mansion which always has two or three problems on the go, either in the basement or the attic or the study. You can fix one whilst working out how to deal with another, only for a leak to spring up in the bathroom and the kitchen to catch on fire. All of this going on whilst properties elsewhere get bigger and better, with the odd expensive extension added on.
But the Reds have to trust Klopp to get their house in order because of the investment they made in him in October. This appointment has to work for both the man and the club. There needs to be a mutual trust and bond there which must be allowed to strengthen.
And what better way for it strengthen than with the sight of that big German grin reflected in another League Cup at Wembley on February 28th?
It won’t, as Klopp says, be the end of all the problems at the club and nor would it prove that he has sprinkled magic dust on Rodgers’ players, but it would be a start where a start is desperately needed.
It’s what makes tonight’s tough trip to Stoke all the more important, with the possibility of a final against Manchester City or Everton to come.
If Liverpool win the League Cup again this year, then Klopp will be only too happy to remember it.