It’s been a first season of great promise for Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool, and a victory against Sevilla in the Europa League final on Wednesday would take things from great promise to massively successful. It would earn Liverpool their first European trophy in more than a decade and get them back into the Champions League for the coming season.
It would be validation for Klopp, for the players, and for the club’s owners who made the difficult choice to drop Brendan Rodgers when it became clear they might only have a short window in which to capture the ex-Dortmund manager. And, no matter which way Wednesday goes, Klopp hopes it can be the start of something big—and something that can last at least seven years.
“Seven years in Liverpool hopefully,” he joked with reporters in Basel today when asked how long he might stay at Anfield. For those not already well versed on Klopp’s history in the game, after more than a decade at FSV Mainz as a player, he took over as manager at the club for the next seven seasons. He then moved on to Borussia Dortmund and spend seven years there.
“I don’t feel the pressure,” he continued. “I cannot change. I feel opportunity. I don’t think I have all the time in the world but I don’t think I’ve ever felt doubt around me. I came here because I was really convinced about the qualities of these players and this squad, despite the doubts that some people maybe had, so to see how they have reached this final gives me a really good feeling.”
From the moment he arrived at Liverpool, Klopp insisted that he was inheriting a squad with more quality than many had given them credit for, and throughout their European campaign, he’s proven that true. Adam Lallana has found form under Klopp and has rather unexpectedly turned into the new manager’s Dirk Kuyt, tireless on the wings and the man who makes the gegenpress go.
Meanwhile, centre half Dejan Lovren has played well enough that nobody talks about him being the club’s most expensive ever defensive signing any more. Divock Origi has blossomed, as has Emre Can. And after two years on the sideliness, Daniel Sturridge has managed to finally find something resembling fitness. It’s been an impressive showing for the new manager. And up next, Sevilla.
“The target is that nobody talks too much about Sevilla's most decisive players after the match because we are talking about our decisive players,” Klopp added. “That's what i'm thinking about but I have complete respect for the Sevilla squad. They really deserve to be in this final. Both teams took this competition very seriously. I like this. So yeah, it’s a good final."