Liverpool must use Wembley League Cup heartbreak to inspire future success


Having witnessed Liverpool’s agonising League Cup Final shoot-out defeat to Man City at Wembley, Ben Twelves writes how the Reds must use the hurt of Sunday’s loss as the motivation for future success.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2016: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva looks dejected after losing in the penalty shoot-out to Manchester City during the Football League Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Heartbreak, as Liverpool suffered in the spot-kick loss to City, is a horrible, gut-wrenching, feeling.

Losing a Cup final on penalties is a feeling that experiencing once is more than enough – fortunately for us, up until Sunday we’d been on the other side, winning our last three trophies all via spot kicks.

But now, using the emptiness that has descended over Anfield to inspire greater future success is the next challenge for Jurgen Klopp and his developing squad.

Wembley Heartbreak

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2016: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva looks dejected after picking up his runners-up medal after losing on penalties to Manchester City during the Football League Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by John Walton/Pool/Propaganda)

An afternoon that promised so much as thousands of Reds and I sung their way up Wembley Way, turned into arguably the lowest I’ve experienced – I was convinced a new era under Klopp would be signified by a first trophy since 2012.

That will be the same – minus the singing and having to walk up to the domineering national stadium in the freezing cold – for Klopp and his squad after the shoot-out loss.

The disappointment that momentum from Coutinho’s equaliser before the end of 90 minutes – that sparked celebrations on a scale that I have never witnessed on my journey’s following the Reds – couldn’t quite force a winner in the remaining time or 30 minutes extra, will forever leave us wondering ‘what if?’ had we managed to get our noses in front.

Had Daniel Sturridge and Lallana got out of each other’s way or the impacting Divock Origi placed his header either side of Willy Caballero, it could have been the memorable final I, and many others, dreamed it would be the night before.

But in truth, the Reds were fortunate that they were able to search for a winner after Coutinho’s leveller, with only Simon Mignolet – who unquestionably should have saved Fernandinho’s opener – preventing City being far out of Liverpool’s sights by then.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Manchester City during the Football League Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Positively, in contrast to recent big occasions, the Reds certainly can’t be accused of being overawed.

Though the outcome was the same, this was a far cry from the spineless showing served up on the last Wembley trip 10 months ago in the FA Cup against Aston Villa.

Klopp’s side took to spacious Wembley surface a well-drilled and confident team, passing well, looking bright in attack with Coutinho pulling the strings, while also rising to the physical battle on the big stage against a powerful City outfit.

The team’s determination was matched in the stands, with renditions of the Kop’s classics sweeping through the Red half of Wembley.

City certainly had more nearly-moments in the pursuit for a winner, but Liverpool more than held their own and had their moments too, before penalties were required to decide a winner.

Under such intense pressure, even an inspirational rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – an emotional moment that brought tears to the eyes of some of those around me – before spot-kicks couldn’t help Lucas, Coutinho and Lallana find the net on a day that shoot-out luck ran out.

Though the hurt of defeat may feel completely “rubbish” as Klopp said post-match, the final heartbreak will provide a vital experience to his developing side.

Learning Curve

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia looks dejected after missing a penalty in the shoot-out against Manchester City during the Football League Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In what currently feels a real slog of a season, further pain has been inflicted and it stings like the blow I took to the head among the wild celebrations after Coutinho equalised.

But Sunday’s bitter loss provides a learning curve that a growing Liverpool must use to ensure better fortunes arrive in looming months and seasons.

It was a first cup final in English football for many of Liverpool’s squad – only Lucas and Jordan Henderson were around for the League Cup triumph four years ago – in contrast to the big game Know-how City boasted throughout a team that has grown together.

And even though a tough and unforgiving final, it was one the group will be better for.

Learning the pressures of a winner-takes-all fixture with the ultimate prize up for grabs will hand key experience for future pursuits of silverware, as will dealing with the unnerving weight of needing to deliver the goods on the biggest domestic stage.

Final failure in a game where performance counts for little but winning is everything will also have provided a harsh but welcome lesson with the game a balanced contest – despite City’s superior chances – overall.

And it could even benefit the squad instantly in the Europa League campaign that explodes to life again when Man United arrive at Anfield next week.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks with Divock Origi as his hide prepare for extra-time against Manchester City during the Football League Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A developing team heading into an exciting – and hopefully successful – new era under Klopp would also have familiarised the group with what the manager expects in games of such importance.

The short-term pain is a nasty but necessary practice to long-term gain for Liverpool.

Though leaving Wembley distraught, it’s made me even hungrier for success, and even more desperate to see Klopp regularly add to the Anfield trophy cabinets having come so close to doing so this early into his tenure with a squad that isn’t even his.

That should – and will – be the same for the players, management and everyone associated with the club, who must use the sobering chapter to assist the pursuit for future glory.

Future Success

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp walks out before the Football League Cup Final match against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A bitter taste will linger over coming days and weeks – none more sour than when City come to Anfield to gloat on Wednesday night in the return to the Premier League.

But this very sense of failure must be used to drive forward from this point on, starting with the Europa League; how better to make up for the gutting disappointment of Sunday afternoon than fighting and overcoming the odds to claim an unlikely Champions League place.

To achieve honours, you must know what it takes to win them – something a Liverpool squad that lacks big stage expertise and players doesn’t but will have a better idea of for next time, now they’ve suffered a crushing loss.

It may not seem it at this early stage, but the Reds are better positioned for success than they have been for a long time, and with the quality and recruits Klopp will bring in, a much brighter and successful future looms.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

Liverpool’s challenge is to act upon those wise words to ensure of future success.


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    • How do we have know chance against MU? They r shyte their manager is shyte,their whole club is p**s poor. Listen I can’t tolerate any1 telling that those [email protected] are better than us,specially if it’s a fellow fan(which I’m hoping u r not). Even if we play non league football id predict us to win

        • You really are not getting what my point is do you? Well to put it straight,I can’t accept a defeat against scums because I hate their arrogant fans to death. Hope that helps,not in a mood to dwell myself in a pointless argument. As it is my day is not going well.

  1. Ha, I also received a blow to the head when Coutinho scored.

    That aside, I think we need to accept that this is another transitional season and we may very well end it empty handed. The EL is more difficult than in recent seasons, there are very few teams left that I’d think us favourites against. If we were to knock United out though, I’d be plenty happy with that and it would go a long way towards making this season feel like a little less of a failure.

  2. You mean the heartbreak of missing out on the league title (also to City) wasn’t enough?

    Time for breaking hearts is over.
    Time for mending hearts is now.

    • cheer up we are a work in progress, we have turned a corner, yes but for the fact that we have one Mr Klopp as manager it would be hard to find anything positive to say about this team, I feel sorry for Lucas Leiva yes the man who was here long before rodgers came on the scene to completely fukc things up, yes and rodgers wanted to sell Lucas to.

  3. How long has your journey been Ben? No celebration will ever match after the goal scored against Chelsea in the Anfield CL semi 2005.

    That goal came after League Cup final heartache too. That that undeserved loss was to Chelsea made the CL goal so much more emotional.

    You see that undeserved Final loss in 2005 we knew was only the beginning of a great journey under Rafa. We believed.

    This Final loss was deserved, and we know it’s only the beginning of the end for quite a few of them players. There’ll be no fairytale European ending this time.

    That is as certain as a Moreno or Mignolet clanger throwing away a game.

      • I was in stanbul, it was special but for me that semi against Chelsea was much more special. The subplots of Rafa Mourinho Gerrard Abromovic’s millions and Chelsea’s breathtaking arrogance after their luck in the League Cup final made that night the most special. I’ve never heard Anfield so hostile, Chelsea sh*t themselves.

  4. If we are to learn, the first thing we should do is remove Milner from all set piece duties and please find a specialist to take them. We get the most corners and free kicks of any team and to see us just waste them is scandalous.

    • His set pieces including the infamous short corners are that bad it looks like he is taking the pi$$.

    • milner can only put it an amazing cross from a hard angle and when we are not anticipating it, if we stop expecting, every cross will find Origis’ head……

  5. Supporting the team through the final was 1 of my most energy sapping experience for me both mentally and physically. It became worse when we lost ON PENOS. I’d prefer the pl games better,lol.

  6. The expectation before the game is that we must win this, but in reality we are never going to win all the cup finals that we are involved with. Fact of life really. As far as klopps first season goes, he is learning about our problems intimately. This team is his starting point, and he has gotten them i to a cup final, so with time and additions things will onoy get better. Klopps style is perfect for liverpool, and perfect for the league we play in, so I really a bright future, despite the painful present

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