Beaten, but Liverpool will be better next season, says Gary Lim
Despite defeat, Klopp's side show signs they mean business next season
(Daniel Sturridge 35)
(Kevin Gameiro 46, Coke 64, 70)
This time, there were no scenes of joy among the men in red at the final whistle, only tears and sorrow.
At St Jakob-Park yesterday morning (Singapore time), Liverpool's hopes of Champions League qualification were ruthlessly snuffed out.
This time, it was Sevilla who staged a comeback, winning the Europa League final 3-1.An appalling second-half display from Liverpool saw the two-time champions score three goals through Kevin Gameiro and Coke (twice) to wipe out Daniel Sturridge's stunning opener before the break.Once Gameiro equalised within 20 seconds of the restart, Liverpool went into meltdown.
An angry Juergen Klopp insisted afterwards he alone should shoulder the blame for the Reds' defeat.
It is his job, he said, "to help the players react in different situations better".
And the manager promised changes.The fans firmly believe Klopp is the one to take Liverpool forward, even though the German revolution certainly hasn't moved as fast as one would have initially thought.Talk of the club becoming darkhorses for the Premiership title following his appointment last October was quickly extinguished.
His report card shows only a slight improvement from the man he replaced, Brendan Rodgers.
The Northern Irishman posted a 36 per cent win record (four wins in 11 games, including a penalty shoot-out victory) in the first two months of the 2015/16 season.
Klopp's stands at 44 per cent, or 23 victories in 52 outings.
Hardly a dramatic contrast there, but the statistics hardly reflect the transformation the Anfield outfit have undergone under Klopp.
His charisma and enthusiasm have been infectious.He inherited a squad that had lost their way, and instilled in the players a sense of purpose and drive.He convinced the players to trust in his ways and play a vastly different system.
Inconsistency remains, but there have been enough encouraging performances to suggest Liverpool supporters aren't wrong to be optimistic about the direction the club are heading.
Their journey to yesterday's final saw them clear some significant obstacles, notably Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.
Significantly, Klopp turned weary minds into rejuvenated souls.
Centre back Dejan Lovren was in danger of turning into one of the club's biggest flops until a sudden surge in form.
Adam Lallana, for the first time since moving from Southampton in 2014, is looking like a First-11 player.
Even the ageing Kolo Toure, who was the Reds' best player against Sevilla, is now the commanding self he was a decade ago.
Klopp is less than eight months into the job and had only the January transfer window to work with so far.
Two finals in a period of transition certainly represents progress.
Plans have already been made to plug the gaps and complement a sound core that includes Nathaniel Clyne, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge.
The commanding Joel Matip will arrive to shore up the defence, while January signing Marko Grujic, a midfielder, will join after his loan spell with Red Star Belgrade. Talk of a reunion between Bayern Munich's Mario Goetze and Klopp is also gathering pace.
Klopp will use his personality to bring in more big names.
Defeat in Basel leaves them without European football next term, which could make recruitment of stars tougher.
On the flip side, it also leaves Klopp without any midweek distractions as he goes about building a Liverpool team in his own mould.
Given financial support, a top-four finish and a cup triumph next season are on the cards.
The German vowed: "We will use this experience together and then some day everyone will say Basel was a very decisive moment in the future of Liverpool."
He believes the Reds are on course for lift-off.
There have been enough signs to suggest he is not wrong.
Owen: Europe absence could make Reds stronger at home
This club... you can’t rest on your laurels... you can’t rest on what’s happened. It’s all looking forward now and I think they’ve got the right man in place to do the job.
- Michael Owen (above)
Michael Owen believes Liverpool's lack of European football next season can aid their bid to return to the upper reaches of the Premier League after a 3-1 defeat in the Europa League final denied them a Champions League spot.
Juergen Klopp's side finished eighth in the Premier League and missed out on a Europa League spot when Manchester City beat them 3-1 on penalties in the League Cup final.
A Champions League place was on offer to the winners in Basel, but after Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool a deserved half-time lead over Sevilla, the Reds capitulated in the second half.
Kevin Gameiro equalised within seconds of the restart and Coke took advantage of some slack defending to bag a brace as Sevilla lifted the trophy for a third successive year.
However, Liverpool's most successful domestic campaign in recent years came in 2013-14, when an absence from European competitions saw them finish second under Brendan Rodgers, after they had threatened to win a first league title since 1989-90.
Owen, who scored 118 league goals for the Reds, said on BT Sport Europe: "The final's gone, we haven't won it, we're not in the Champions League.
"This club... you can't rest on your laurels... you can't rest on what's happened.
"It's all looking forward now and I think they've got the right man in place to do the job.
"As he (Klopp) says, time on the training pitch - that's a positive - time to get more belief in the squad and maybe add one or two new faces to it.
"But start looking forward. It's going to be disappointing for a few weeks, maybe even longer, but at some point you've got to put it behind you and start looking to the future.
"Once pre-season starts, there will be a new wave of optimism and, as I said, the last really good season in the Premier League that Liverpool had was when they weren't in any European competition, so maybe use that as an advantage on your competitors."
Owen's former Anfield teammate Steve McManaman argued that attracting star players to the club was going to be made more difficult by the club's Champions League absence.
"It will be harder to attract the real star players to Liverpool," he said. "Yes, Liverpool have got an amazing history, they've been in two finals, and that will help.
"The manager will certainly help, his aura will drag players to the team, but the very, very best want to play at the very highest level and that is in the Champions League."
- PA Sport.
I don’t think God had a plan with me to go to the final and always have a knock. I don’t think I am an unlucky person or life has not been good to me. I will try with all I have to reach the next final, even when you know you can lose it.
- Juergen Klopp on his fifth straight loss in a major final
(Aug 9 to Oct 4, 2015)
- All competitions: Played 11, W4 D5 L2
- Win percentage: 36%
- League position: 10th
- League Cup: Fourth round
- Europa League: Group stage
(Oct 8, 2015 till now)
- All competitions: Played 52, W23 D17 L12
- Win percentage: 44%
- League position: 8th
- League Cup: Final
- FA Cup: 4th round
- Europa League: Final