Jurgen Klopp is determined to help Liverpool return to glory after admitting he still feels haunted by the Reds’ implosion in the Europa League final.
Klopp is preparing his side for their first full season under his charge after his first nine months in charge saw the club spurn two chances to win silverware with Manchester City beating them on penalties in the Capital One Cup final before their Europa League final defeat to Sevilla in May.
It was the manner of that 3-1 reverse in Basel which has proven so difficult for Klopp to accept in the months since; he said afterwards that he felt ‘pretty s***’ and time has not been a particular healer.
Daniel Sturridge’s first-half goal looked to have put Liverpool in firm command but the feeble way in which they allowed their hard work to unravel left Klopp mystified and forced him to spend some time soul-searching.
That defeat meant Liverpool have no European football this season – something which Klopp believes has had an impact on their recruitment drive – and he knows what work must be done to get them on that stage.
“I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this,” said Klopp, who takes his side to Huddersfield on Wednesday for their final pre-season friendly before embarking on a tour of the United States. “It was long ago but it still feels bad.
“After the game I was not in the mood to think too much about the first half but later I did and it was obvious that we’d played a good game in the first half and we could have been in a more clear lead.
“We could have had a penalty for handball, all this stuff that you see afterwards, it’s not interesting because it’s over but as a human being it’s quite difficult to accept all this stuff.
“Of course you have the moments when you still suffer a little bit. The second half, 18 seconds in was too soon. I’ve thought a lot about half-time but there wasn’t too special that I could highlight, that we were not too sure about the game or something like this.”
Klopp on Basel defeat
Klopp, who expects to complete the signing of Ragnar Klavan by Thursday, added in the Daily Mail: “We knew it was only half-time and there was still a lot of work to be done but then what happened happened.
“When you watch it again you see that something broke at that moment. Different players had no weapons any more; they had no power and no confidence. You saw that.
“We went too deep in a lot of positions and we were not close enough to the challenges. All of it was not too good but it was, of course, about the intensity that we had had on the way to the final, we’d had to over-perform one or two times, we had to play very special games and we’d had a lot of games.
“We’d tried everything to have fresh legs for the final, but none of this is an excuse because this was not a final that we should have lost but we lost and that’s the truth.
“It was a hard night and a hard few days afterwards but it is in the past and like all games in the past if you can use them you should do.”
Liverpool’s touring party to the United States will be bolstered by the return of England internationals Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne and Daniel Sturridge and Klopp also hopes at some point he will be able to have Newcastle’s Georgino Wijnaldum on board too.
Once he has everyone together, he will talk to the squad about the experience they endured in Switzerland but it won’t be the first thing he says to the group.
“You have to take the right thoughts from it,” said Klopp. “That’s what we’ll try to do but that’s not easy because you can’t bring all of this up in the first meeting and say ‘Look, I hope you had a wonderful holiday, but I want to tell you the second half in Basel was not so good.’ That wouldn’t make sense.
“It’s an experience, one that you don’t need, but we will get on with it. We had no luck in the game, Sevilla had a few moments in the first half when they needed a bit of luck and they had it, but it’s over and it doesn’t feel as bad now as it did at the time.”