“The stakes just got even higher. It really is Basel or bust” – How the media reacted to West Brom 1-1 Liverpool

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We take a look at how the media assessed Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against West Brom in their final Premier League game of the season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side signed off the league campaign with a draw against Tony Pulis’ Baggies at the Hawthorns.

Salomon Rondon punished some poor defending from Liverpool to fire the home side ahead after 13 minutes, but a stunning solo strike from Jordon Ibe just 10 minutes later sealed a point for the much-changed Reds.

The result sees Liverpool finish the season in 8th place in the Premier League table, but the low finish will count for nothing if the Reds can seal European glory and a Champions League return on Wednesday night against Sevilla.

Here is how the media reacted to the final day stalemate.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 15, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp waves to the supporters after the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion during the final Premier League match of the season at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The final league game of the season prompted reporters to reflect on Liverpool’s ultimately underwhelming league campaign and also acknowledge Klopp’s early impact.

The Liverpool Echo‘s Ian Doyle centred on the fact the finish equals Liverpool’s worst since returning to the top flight:

Liverpool’s failure to win at The Hawthorns and results elsewhere scuppered any chance of qualification for Europe through league placing.

Indeed, the eighth-place finish equals the Reds’ worst since being promoted back to the top flight in 1962.

Echo James Pearce instead focussed on how Klopp has provided hope for the future, despite the flat campaign:

The Reds actually finished this campaign two places and two points worse off than 2014/15. But the vastly different mood among the fanbase proves that perception really is everything.

Klopp has provided hope where previously there was none. He has masterminded one of the most thrilling European runs in the club’s illustrious history and led the Reds to two cup finals.

The Mirror‘s David Anderson also recognised the promise Klopp has installed:

Judged by the way the Liverpool fans sang Jurgen Klopp’s name, you could have thought they had won the title, rather than equal their worst finish since 1962.

But the Kop have seen enough from Klopp’s first seven months to know better times lie ahead.

The Mail‘s Chris Wheeler noted how a sluggish campaign will count for nothing with victory in Switzerland:

An eighth-placed finish is Liverpool’s joint lowest since 1962.

But there was a buoyant mood among the Liverpool fans for whom Klopp can do no wrong at the moment. No point jeopardising European glory chasing a couple of places in the Premier League.

In his assessment of Liverpool’s season, the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe had no doubts Klopp will take the Reds to where they belong:

It looked like a no-brainer to pair Klopp with The Kop, but who could have imagined such an ideal match would yield so many momentous results so soon?

He will take the club where it expects to be.

Goal.com’s Melissa Reddy now feels Klopp’s challenge is to make the Reds a domestic force again next season:

The test with Sevilla is only the start of something special though, the real challenge is making sure that Liverpool can be a force in the top flight next season and beyond.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 14, 2016: Liverpool players celebrate the incredible 4-3 (5-4 aggregate) victory over Borussia Dortmund during the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match at Anfield. Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho Correia, Lucas Leiva, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Mamadou Sakho. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After missing out on European qualification through the 8th placed Premier League finish, reporters centred on how it is now all or nothing for Klopp’s side on Wednesday night.

Reddy wrote:

Liverpool, finishing eighth – two positions and points worse off than last season, know their fate: win against Sevilla and line up in the Champions League next campaign or lose and be restricted to domestic football.

Pearce wrote:

The stakes just got even higher. It really is Basel or bust.

Rather than be remembered as flops, the fact is the class of 2015/16 will go down in the history books as heroes if they deliver Liverpool’s first European trophy for 11 years at St Jakob-Park.

An entire season will be defined by one night in Basel.

And Wheeler wrote:

An eighth-placed finish means the door back into the Europa League is now closed, and Liverpool must beat the Spaniards in Basle on Wednesday night to secure a Champions League place.

While Doyle feels Europa League glory will erase memories of a flat league campaign:

And if the Europa League is lifted at St Jakob-Park in three days’ time, nobody will be saying Klopp’s debut campaign has been anything other than a success.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 15, 2016: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson applauds the supporters after the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion during the final Premier League match of the season at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A typical end-of-season encounter with little action on the pitch, reporters felt one of the biggest positives came with the comebacks of Danny Ings and, in particular ahead of Wednesday night, Jordan Henderson.

Paul Doyle of the Guardian assessed:

This match was illuminated by two brilliant goals, first by Salomon Rondon and then by Jordon Ibe, but the brightest points for Liverpool were the returns from injury of Jordan Henderson and Danny Ings.

Pearce wrote:

The return to action of both captain Jordan Henderson and striker Danny Ings added to the feel-good factor ahead of the mass exodus to Switzerland.

The Echo’s Doyle pondered whether Henderson will have done enough to start in Basel:

Henderson had been told by Klopp he needed to feature before the end of the season to have any chance of being considered for Wednesday.

So the skipper will hope he did enough in his 26-minute run-out to copper-bottom his availability in Basel and, on a personal note, prove he should be included in England’s Euro 2016 squad, which Roy Hodgson will name on Monday.

Wheeler wrote:

In Henderson’s case, his comeback after almost six weeks out could not be timed better with Roy Hodgson set to announce his provisional England party for Euro 2016 on Monday, and a place in Liverpool’s squad for Basle now a distinct possibility.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 15, 2016: Liverpool's Jordon Ibe on his way to scoring the first equalising goal West Bromwich Albion to level the score at 1-1 during the final Premier League match of the season at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As Klopp came under scrutiny for naming a much-changed side, reporters praised the performances of some of those handed a chance by the Liverpool boss.

Firstly, Steve Madeley for the Independent felt Klopp made the “sensible” decision to rotate his team:

The travelling Reds supporters could look forward to the week in the knowledge that their manager had, sensibly, risked none of the key figures from his European side.

David Usher in his player ratings for ESPN assessed stand-in centre-back Lucas Leiva as Man of the Match:

Lucas Leiva, 8 — Defended soundly and was exemplary in possession, where his eye for a forward pass often put his side into good situations that were usually squandered by those ahead of him. Comfortably Liverpool’s best player.

The Mirror‘s David Maddock praised the impact of Jordon Ibe:

Ibe can still make it at Liverpool.

The winger has struggled to live up to his unfair billing as Raheem Sterling’s replacement at Anfield.

But he showed his class with his fine solo goal.

Pearce felt Ibe handed a reminder of his potential which Klopp can yet unlock:

It was an individual goal of true quality and a timely reminder of what he can do when he’s positive, direct and believes in himself.

The 20-year-old hasn’t kicked on like many hoped he would this season. He’s gone from starter to squad player but he deserves to be persevered with. There is potential there for Klopp to unlock.

Usher also singled out Cameron Brannagan for praise after a promising full league debut:

An encouraging first Premier League start from the talented 20-year-old. He was bright and inventive and went close to scoring in the first half after a mazy dribble into the box. Rarely wasted a pass and showed great energy. He looks to have a bright future.

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