Jurgen Klopp’s first Liverpool final and how late-night karaoke summed up belief

Hours after Liverpool had been beaten by Manchester City in Jurgen Klopp‘s first League Cup final, a coach full with club staff departed a deserted Wembley.

It carried members of the Reds’ media and PR departments, as well as legendary Anfield figures such as Roy Evans and Ray Houghton, who had spent the day providing insights for LFCTV’s coverage.

Needless to say, the allegiances of those on board tilted heavily towards the Reds, and so it would have been understandable had the mood been a little sombre.

Yet the truth is that an impromptu karaoke session soundtracked a raucous journey back to the club’s city-centre base ending in the early hours of Monday morning.

This was a party atmosphere that clearly did not align with the result in the capital, but it did serve to underline the renewed belief inspired by Klopp’s arrival.

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)

The German had succeeded Brendan Rodgers as manager just five months earlier, taking on a job that his predecessors had made to look impossible.

And yet here the Reds were, falling narrowly short of silverware thanks to the lottery of penalties, all without their new boss having made a single signing.

Nobody doubted that this shootout defeat would come to represent little more than a minor setback on the road to better days.

It would be fair to say that the hope evident on that coach and, in fact, among the wider fanbase at the time, has been more than justified in the intervening years.

Klopp, of course, went on to eventually lift the League Cup, while the FA Cup, the Premier League, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and a Club World Cup have also been secured on his watch.

And the German has a chance to further add to Liverpool’s ‘Wall of Champions’ across the remainder of a season that promises so much, starting on Sunday.

It feels fitting that the first obstacle to this quadruple attempt is Chelsea, a club that has stood in contradiction to everything Liverpool and Klopp have championed in recent years.

The chaos that grips Stamford Bridge is summed up by frequent manager sackings and ludicrous sums spent on players, all in the name of American owners whose attempts to take an alternative route to success have thus far fallen flat.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp lifts the trophy as his side celebrate winning the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Compare that to Klopp’s lengthy and largely serene stay at Anfield, which has been underpinned by behind-the-scenes acuity and more restrained transfer spending directed by Fenway Sports Group.

Liverpool fans must hope that, as was the case when these two sides met late last month, the merits of their club’s more sober approach in the boardroom is underlined on Sunday.

But as well as proving a point on that front, victory in the first leg of Klopp’s farewell tour would also provide further vindication for the optimism that defined the early months of his reign.