Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists he is not concerned by the manner of his side’s EFL Cup semi-final exit despite it adding to the growing sense of a season starting to unravel.
Shane Long’s added-time goal secured a 1-0 win at Anfield – and a 2-0 aggregate victory – to put Southampton into their first major final since the 2003 FA Cup loss to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.
But while Saints fans celebrated wildly Liverpool supporters were left to wonder just where a campaign which had promised so much before Christmas is now heading.
Coming just days after a first home league defeat in the year to lowly Swansea there is a feeling starting to emerge among many Reds fans of a downward spiral.
With a tricky FA Cup tie at home to Sky Bet Championship visitors Wolves to come on Saturday before the visit of Premier League leaders Chelsea the next week could be pivotal in Liverpool’s season, which has seen them slip from a high point of being top of the table in early November.
However, Klopp, who immediately after the game admitted Southampton deserved to progress after winning both legs, later claimed his side deserved to win on the night and claimed he saw enough signs in the Southampton defeat to keep him optimistic.
“We usually score in situations like this but we didn’t,” he said of their failed attempts to score past Claude Puel’s well-organised team for the third time in just over two months.
“It doesn’t say anything about the performance but everything about the result. We are out and we have to accept it.
“As a coach it is very important for me to know what the performance is like and I thought we deserved to win the game.
“For me it is very important the way we choose to create chances.
“We stuck to the usual plan and in one or two moments immediately we had good chances.
“We are out and I think no-one will talk about this for a long time but for us the performance was really important and I am fine with this.”
Puel’s game plan was executed perfectly by his players who put in a well-organised, composed display.
The Frenchman felt a trip to Wembley was just reward for a difficult season which has seen them go out of the Europa League early and have some inconsistent performances in the Premier League.
“I am happy for all the squad because they work very hard since the beginning of the season and play all these games every three days which is very difficult,” he said.
“Often they can do fantastic work on the pitch without the good reward and I think it’s fantastic to win this game, to see them qualify for Wembley and to have all this for the staff, the player and our fans.
“It’s not finished now. It’s interesting of course to go to Wembley and it’s not just to participate but to win this game.
“It’s an important big game, not just to play this final but perhaps to see another qualification for the European games.”