Steven Gerrard says Jurgen Klopp is a “winner”, and the German will “make a massive difference” for Liverpool in the Capital One Cup final.
The Reds face Manchester City in Sunday’s Wembley showpiece, with the club aiming to win their first silverware since winning the competition in 2012.
Klopp has the chance to surpass his predecessor Brendan Rodgers in winning a trophy within just four months of his appointment at Anfield, and Gerrard believes he is more than capable of inspiring his players to do so.
Gerrard feels that Klopp will make a “massive difference” to players in terms of preparation and tactics on Sunday.
‘I have been in the biggest games where we’ve felt fully prepared mentally and physically but the team has frozen,’ Gerrard wrote in his Daily Telegraph column. ‘Aston Villa in last season’s FA Cup semi-final is an example of that.
‘I am convinced had we played Villa in any other venue, in any other round last season, we would have been more relaxed and beaten them comfortably. At Wembley, we seemed to want it too much and were outplayed, losing all our individual battles.
‘Maybe it was the scars of the previous season, going so close to the title and wanting so badly to get our first trophy with that group of players, but we were nowhere near our level. The adrenalin took over in a negative way and the decision-making was poor. Brendan Rodgers prepared us and gave us the right game plan to beat Villa and we failed to carry out those instructions. We forgot our jobs tactically and technically.
‘Many of those players will be part of the Liverpool team facing City and need to put that right.
‘I believe they will do it. They have an extra element which will make a massive difference: Jurgen Klopp.
‘I think back to those finals I did win as a player and in the build-up the managers were crucial. Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson were meticulous in their approach having us well drilled, in Tommo’s case bringing years of experience of winning trophies and playing major finals.
‘When Rafael Benitez took over we had a manager who had just won the Uefa Cup and La Liga so you trusted him to get it right when it mattered. One of my most treasured winners’ medals was my last in the 2012 League Cup for Kenny Dalglish – a hero to me and my dad.
‘Whether it was Houllier in my first League Cup final in 2001, Benitez in the 2005 Champions League or Kenny when I lifted my last trophy as Liverpool captain three years ago, that final message was the same: “Do not come back into this dressing room with any regrets, boys.
‘I look at my old club under Klopp and I am certain they have appointed another winner. I can be sure he won’t be interested in trivial pre-match questions about going to Wembley, or cup final suits and all those other traditions. His obsession, just as it was for Houllier, Benitez and Dalglish, will be about how to bring that trophy to Anfield.
‘Those Liverpool players will be looking at Klopp and believing he is the one to lead them to numerous trophies.
‘Klopp has a presence – an aura which I sensed when I was back at the training ground at Christmas. The way he delivers his message inspires players. There is an honesty and integrity about him and he lets his players know exactly what is expected in a clear way. People see the jokey side of him in public but there is steel in there. I wish I was younger and sampling it on a daily basis.
‘His most important role in the days before Wembley is to dilute the occasion and take the pressure off to ensure his team plays without the shackles on.
‘Having said all that, I also know from experience that the manager can only do so much. Once you cross the line it is down to you to execute those plans.’