A spirit-crushing defeat in a major final can often signal the end for a manager, yet Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp believes their Europa League final heartache could prove to be a bright new beginning for his club.
A self-confessed fan of “heavy metal football”, Klopp would have loved nothing more than to get his hands on a weighty piece of silverware in Basel, but his hopes of glory were dashed by a 3-1 loss to the competition’s masters Sevilla.
As Sevilla captain Coke held aloft the trophy at St Jakob-Park, Liverpool’s German coach had already disappeared down the tunnel, not waiting to applaud opponents who had dashed his hopes of ending his first season at Anfield with a trophy.
“We will use this experience -- that is what we have to do,” German Klopp told reporters.
“The players are still young. Some day everyone will say Basel was a decisive moment for Liverpool FC.”
Klopp arrived at Anfield in October to take charge of a team low on confidence who had developed a reputation for lacking the steel to get over the line on big occasions.
While the latter accusation could still be levelled at Klopp’s squad, confidence abounds that the German is steering the Liverpool ship to new horizons and a second cup final defeat in three months will not have swayed fans who have been captivated by the German.
After going three seasons under Klopp’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers without making a major final, to reach two in such a short space of time is perhaps a glaring signal that Klopp means business. Liverpool also lost to Manchester City in this season’s League Cup final.
He has been far from a panacea to cure all Liverpool’s ills, however, and their erratic league form attests to the fact that there is still so much work ahead for the Liverpool boss.
Yet there is no mistaking a change in atmosphere at Anfield and a sense that people around the club has changed, in Klopp’s words, from doubters to believers.
It was perhaps a shame, therefore, that belief was the one thing Liverpool seemed to lack when Sevilla clawed their way back into the match on Wednesday.
Daniel Sturridge’s opener was wiped out 17 seconds into the second half by Kevin Gameiro’s close-range effort and Coke’s two goals finished the job.
“It was obviously the first (Sevilla) goal (that changed the game). In this moment we lost faith in our style of play,” Klopp said.
“We changed from passing simply and quick, to slow and complicated.”
While next season will not see Liverpool return to the European stage after their eighth-place Premier League finish, Klopp believes this could give his side an edge on the domestic front.
“We will have no international tournament next year, we will have time to train. We will use it and come back stronger,” he said.