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Record breakers How trophies define the legacy of all top teams and Jurgen Klopp needs more knockout joy


Pep Lijnders and Jurgen Klopp have both been in isolation (Nick Potts/PA)

Pep Lijnders and Jurgen Klopp have both been in isolation (Nick Potts/PA)

Pep Lijnders and Jurgen Klopp have both been in isolation (Nick Potts/PA)

GREAT teams are defined by trophy successes and that’s why I want to see Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to go all out for domestic cup glory this season.

The Liverpool team I was a part of in the late 1980s is remembered as one of the greatest sides in England and some of the football we played was second to none.

Yet the lack of trophies is the primary reason we are not considered among the best of them all.

Now I’m biased and would argue Liverpool’s 1987/88 title-winning team was as good as any we have seen in the English game, with John Barnes in his prime, Ray Houghton at his best and Peter Beardsley a great partner for me up front.

The problem is, you look back at the record of that team and it does not have the list of honours it should have done.

My penalty miss in the 1988 FA Cup final denied us a chance to win the domestic double, but let’s not dwell on this moment for too long as it still hurts to this day.

Then we were denied the league title the following season by a freak result against Arsenal in the final game of a season shattered by the horrors of the Hillsborough disaster.

English clubs were also banned from European competition at the time and that meant we couldn’t have a go at the great AC Milan side in the European Cup.

So the final record of our team means they can’t be considered as greats simply because we didn’t get the trophies of the Liverpool teams that went before.

This is where Klopp has missed a trick in the domestic cup competitions during his time.

We all appreciate the Champions League and Premier League have become the big cash cows of the game and they are the trophies the big clubs want to win.

Yet only two or even one side can get their hands on those trophies every season and this is why Klopp needs to change his attitude to domestic cup competitions.

There’s no problem in giving some young players a chance to play in the first team, so long as they are surrounded by experienced players who are capable of winning the trophy, but that hasn’t always happened.

What we have seen from Liverpool over the last five years has not given them the best chance of winning the FA Cup or the League Cup and I don’t think that’s right.

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Supporters love the big day out at Wembley and the moment when their team lifts the FA Cup, with the excitement of the one-off day meaning so much.

We all agree the FA Cup has lost some of its mo-jo from my time as a player when it was as big to win the Cup as it was to win the League.

Yet ask any Liverpool fan how they feel about domestic knock-out competitions and I’m pretty sure they will all say they miss the days when their team were winning cup finals.

Liverpool have not won the FA Cup since 2006, when Steven Gerrard single-handedly saved the day against West Ham and got Rafael Benitez’s side over the line.


Liverpool's Caoimhín Kelleher. Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool's Caoimhín Kelleher. Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool's Caoimhín Kelleher. Photo: Getty Images

That was 15 years ago and one of the primary reasons why they have not won it since is Klopp and the managers before him have opted to rest star men in the early rounds of the competition.

I appreciate today’s game against Shrewsbury may be a special case in a week when the Liverpool training ground was shut down due to a Covid outbreak.

But I look at the squad Klopp will be picking from and he could start with Caoimhín Kelleher in goal, Joe Gomez and Andy Robertson could be part of the defence and he should have plenty of midfield options as well.

With Mo Salah and Sadio Mane away at the African Cup of Nations, Liverpool may be a little short of numbers in the forward line, but Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi should be more than good enough to see off Shrewsbury.

For me, the bigger game comes next Thursday when Arsenal will be at Anfield in what is now the first leg of the League Cup semi-final, after the game at Emirates Stadium was postponed due to Covid three days ago.

I’m sure Klopp doesn’t sit in his office dreaming about winning the League Cup, but when you get to a semi-final, you really have to go for the trophy.

I look at Manchester City and while they may be fortunate to have the cash to build a ridiculously strong squad, they also have the right attitude when it comes to accumulating trophies.

Pep Guardiola has won eight trophies in his time at City, with four League Cup wins bolstering his hugely impressive CV.

Klopp has won four trophies as Liverpool boss and arguably, that achievement is more impressive as he has won the Champions League and Premier League without a big budget.


Yet the trophies form part of your legacy and when his time at Liverpool comes to an end, Klopp may look back with some regrets if he still has only four trophies to his name.

This Liverpool team will go down in the history books after they brought a sixth European crown to Anfield and then ended the long wait for a Premier League title win, yet they should want more.

If they were to win both domestic cup competitions in 2022, the disappointment of missing out on the Premier League title to Manchester City would be diluted.

So Klopp needs to step away from the idea of putting all his hopes into winning the Champions League in the second half of this season, with success on home soil a real possibility if he wants to grab it.

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