Liverpool face Sevilla in Wednesday’s Europa League final, and former captain Steven Gerrard says triumph in Basle could prove the beginning of a glorious era under Jurgen Klopp.
In his 17 years at Anfield, Gerrard won three European crowns – the UEFA Cup and Super Cup in 2001, as well as the Champions League on that memorable night in Istanbul in 2005.
With Gerrard now departed and Klopp replacing Brendan Rodgers at the helm, 2015-16 has seen the beginnings of a new age at Anfield, the German already enjoying success since taking over in October.
A run to the League Cup final ended in penalty-shootout defeat to Manchester City, but Liverpool have a second chance for silverware – and a place in next season’s Champions League – when they face double defending champions Sevilla at St Jakob-Park.
And Gerrard believes victory could provide a springboard for the club to possibly challenge for Premier League glory in 2016-17.
“Winning the final against Sevilla will mean a European trophy, a place in history for all those players and the sense they are at the beginning of a new era under one of the greatest coaches of his generation,” Gerrard wrote in his column for The Telegraph.
“All the talk in August would be about what was next for Jurgen Klopp’s side – a possible title challenge. With the calibre of player they could attract, and Champions League qualification, there would be confidence Liverpool could challenge.
“Then there is the darker road, the one none of us who love Liverpool want to contemplate. It’s the second final defeat in a matter of months, disrupting the feel-good-factor achieved in securing that flight to Switzerland, undermining the meaning of those notable wins over Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal.
“Not just another year without a trophy, but no European competitions at all next season. That would have an impact on the quality of players Klopp could attract, the financial rewards for the club and the morale of the squad.
“In both 2001 and 2005, I came off the pitch saying they would be the catalysts for a new era of success. We were given the perfect platform to go on and we never took it, especially after Istanbul.”