Klopp's best bet for a trophy is the League Cup, says Gary Lim
League Cup is German's best chance for silverware
SEMI-FINAL, SECOND LEG
LIVERPOOL v STOKE CITY
- Liverpool lead 1-0 from first leg
The wild goal celebrations broke his spectacles and could have affected his vision, but Liverpool's farcical performance didn't escape Juergen Klopp's eyes.
There was everything a manager could have asked for in the Reds' thrilling, last-gasp 5-4 win away to Norwich last Saturday.
But the German also saw so many negatives in his side.
The fighting spirit and panache came as a package with the defensive chaos and alarming lapses in concentration.
Little surprise then, that Klopp insisted his side had to immediately fix their problems if they were serious about making it to Wembley.
Liverpool go into the second leg of their League Cup semi-final at Anfield tomorrow morning (Singapore time) armed with a 1-0 advantage over Stoke City.
The first-leg result at the Britannia Stadium placed them in the driver's seat, but the defensive display over the weekend was just the encouragement the Potters needed.
After more than three months in the Liverpool job, Klopp should have realised by now that the club's problems run deeper than first thought.
The imbalance, dearth of leadership, defensive fragility and injury-prone players have combined to retard progress.
Every step forward has been swiftly followed by another in the opposite direction.
The abject 2-0 defeat by Newcastle United last month came hot on the heels of a silky 6-1 demolition of Southampton.
Striker Daniel Sturridge came back from injury only to pick up yet another one.
Liverpool's best player Philippe Coutinho ended a goal drought that lasted more than two months with four goals in three matches, then slipped back into a barren patch and now lies on the treatment table.
Klopp still can't fully flex his muscles because of the problems he inherited.
Supporters have since tempered their expectations.
At the start of last month, the Reds were darkhorses for the Premier League title, today they are outsiders for a Champions League spot and hope to find success in the Cup competitions.
That is why tomorrow's clash with Stoke is like a booby trap.
Mark Hughes' men possess a punch lethal enough to land Liverpool on the canvas.
This season, they have beaten the two Manchester teams and Chelsea, and held Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.
Liverpool's chance of making it to the final rests on whether they show up at Anfield.
Holding such an advantage over Stoke and with Wembley beckoning, Klopp has a chance of turning this season into a successful one by capturing silverware in his first campaign.
The League Cup may not be hugely significant in the grand scheme of things, but in Klopp's case, it will give him more breathing space as he strives to haul Liverpool up to the next level, and ultimately back to the top of English football.
It will also provide the players a huge shot of confidence.
If Liverpool knock Stoke out, they are looking at a glamorous final.
Should Everton keep their first-leg advantage intact (they lead Manchester City 2-1) on Thursday, a dream Merseyside Derby awaits.
If Man City overturn the deficit, the final promises plenty, too.
Klopp, the players and the long-suffering fans want a springboard to propel the club forward. Right now, the League Cup looks like Liverpool's best hope.
Without being too cruel, you just can’t rely on him. his history would tell you that he misses too many games. If he plays, it is a bonus.
— Graeme Souness on Daniel Sturridge