Former Liverpool and Manchester City winger Steve McManaman says victory in Sunday’s League Cup final would prove vital in helping Jurgen Klopp build a successful reign at Anfield.
The two teams meet at Wembley as the first major trophy of the season is decided, with Liverpool looking to improve on a record that has seen them win silverware just once since 2006.
McManaman feels a trophy win for Klopp would immediately buy him significant time and help him avoid the criticism received by his sacked predecessor Brendan Rodgers, who did not win a major honour in his time at the helm.
“Jurgen Klopp will want to win it because he has only been in the job four months,” he told Omnisport.
“Brendan Rodgers didn’t win a trophy at Liverpool and he was told about it many times because every Liverpool manager had won a trophy in their first two and a half years in the job.
“Winning it will mean everything to Klopp because it is a transitional period for him. He hasn’t brought in his own players yet so if he can get a trophy under his belt straight away, and you can give your fans a trophy after four months, they will think he is a genius.
“They will give him more time then to build a side going forward and aim for bigger trophies. The Liverpool fans idolise him anyway at the moment because of his interviews, the way he is around the players. He is very enigmatic, charismatic, so people instantly like him.”
McManaman also feels the match represents outgoing City boss Manuel Pellegrini’s most realistic chance of winning a farewell trophy in 2015-16.
“This is his best chance of silverware this year,” said the 44-year-old. “Last year they didn’t win anything and that is a failure in Manchester City’s eyes. This year he is in a final.
“I know he is aiming for the Premier League and the Champions League but they are two very difficult competitions to win. They are not the best team in the Champions League, we know that the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich are.
“In the Premier League, the fact that they lost to Leicester and then lost to Tottenham was a big blow for them.
“So this is his first chance to win silverware. The Capital One Cup is synonymous with Manuel Pellegrini and he will definitely want to leave some sort of legacy at Manchester City and leave as being successful in that last year.
“This is the first trophy. If he wins something else then so be it, but he will definitely want to win the Capital One Cup.”
McManaman does not think the match will be similar to Liverpool’s stunning 4-1 Premier League win over City in November, but does believe Klopp’s men can succeed again.
Asked if that game could be repeated, he said: “I wouldn’t have thought so. I think that was a bit of a freak game. Manchester City were big favourites going into that and everybody was surprised by the result.
“I don’t think Manchester City will play the same way and allow Liverpool the freedom that they gave them that night. I think it will be a lot closer and more cagey.
“It is very hard [to predict] because both teams are inconsistent at this moment, but I think Liverpool will play a slightly counter-attacking game and I will just edge for a Liverpool victory.”
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