Saturday 1 October 2016

Coutinho's no king, Sturridge must stay and other talking points from Liverpool's Europa League final defeat

Published 18/05/2016 | 22:16

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho

Jurgen Klopp's dream of ending his first season as Liverpool boss with a major European title ended in a 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in Basle on Wednesday.

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Here, we pick  out five things we learned from his side's second-half capitulation.

1. KLOPP'S KOP CROWN CAN WAIT

Some claimed Europa League success would usher in a new golden era at Liverpool. While few doubt the ability of Klopp to bring back the good times, they may have to wait a little longer for tangible signs of success. Liverpool's performance in Basle encapsulated a season which for all its exhilarating individual moments, has ended in frustration. Klopp will need to pull apart much of this team and with no European football next season to attract the truly top-name signings, the job is likely to be harder than he had hoped.

2. COUTINHO'S NO KING

Philippe Coutinho has an extraordinary record of saving his best for the big occasions so it was hardly surprising his team-mates should appear somewhat overreliant on the Brazilian turning the tie back in their favour again. But for once, he failed to shine when it mattered most, relegated to the role of bit-part player for most of the proceedings, save for setting up Sturridge's early strike. The sooner Liverpool learn not to bank on the Brazilian, the sooner he is likely to rediscover the form everyone knows he is capable of producing.

3. STURRIDGE MUST STAY

Since Klopp arrived at Anfield there has been speculation over the future of Daniel Sturridge, who endured a torrid campaign with repeated injury issues and loss of form. There were even suggestions Klopp had lost faith in the striker. But Sturridge's stunning first-half effort in Switzerland reminded everyone just what a special talent he is - and will surely have convinced Klopp that he needs to keep hold of the England man as he models a new-look side for next year's Premier League campaign.

4. DEFENSIVE ISSUES

Serious work is required in Liverpool's back-line, with Alberto Moreno producing an alarmingly bad performance at left-back, and Dejan Lovren - for all his rapid improvement at Anfield this season - also once again looking hesitant. It will come as scant consolation to Klopp that the one member of his defence upon whom it is apparent he can rely, Kolo Toure, is nearing the tail end of his career and is hardly the player around whom a new era can be built.

5. CAN CAN

On a night Liverpool would rather forget, Emre Can hardly produced one of his finest performances, but the energy and determination he displayed throughout in attempting to link a faltering defence with his frustrated team-mates up front, suggested once again that Can can be the real deal at Anfield. A Klopp-type player down to a tee, expect his influence at the club to continue to grow.

Press Association

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