Fooball: A coveted trophy for both Klopp and Pellegrini

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp (left) and Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp (left) and Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini. PHOTOS: REUTERS

Klopp and Pellegrini cross paths in final, hoping to win the Cup for different reasons

LONDON • Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp will be bidding to secure his first trophy for the club and Manchester City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini potentially his last in today's League Cup final.

Klopp is less than five months into his mission to restore Liverpool to former glories, whereas Pellegrini has only three months left in the City saddle before handing the reins to Pep Guardiola.

City are the favourites, but former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has claimed that the nous Klopp demonstrated by leading Borussia Dortmund to five trophies will give the underdogs the edge.

 

Responding to Gerrard's prediction, Klopp said: "I am not sure I am the difference, but I know the way. There is absolutely no reason at this moment to have a doubt.

"I have to show it as clear as possible so there is no misunderstanding for the ears of the players.

"We do this job in professional football. We only want to win things - titles, Cups, whatever. A lot of managers work their whole lives and can be really successful, but have never the chance to win something. Now, everything is possible."

Having fallen nine points below fourth-place City in the Premier League, Liverpool's hopes of Champions League qualification are fading and they were recently eliminated from the FA Cup by West Ham.

They will face Manchester United in a tantalising last-16 Europa League tie, but it is today's game that offers Klopp the best chance to make a mark in his first campaign.

With eight trophies, Liverpool are the League Cup's most successful club with eight titles, but they have not procured any silverware since they last won in 2012.

Klopp's tenure to date has been a tale of feast and famine, with dreary displays interspersed by stunning results such as slick away wins at City and Chelsea, a breathless 5-4 victory at Norwich City and six-goal thrashings of both Southampton and Aston Villa.

Liverpool won 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium in November, but Klopp and Pellegrini have attempted to play down the significance of that result.

Perhaps significantly, both men have since recovered key personnel - notably Vincent Kompany and David Silva for City and Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge for Liverpool.

Liverpool's starting XI has been largely unchanged since the 6-0 demolition of Villa, with Klopp making just one change across that game and the two-legged Europa League win over Augsburg.

His key decision regards his centre-back pairing, with fit-again duo Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren back in contention along with Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure and Lucas Leiva.

Pellegrini is hopeful that Kompany, Raheem Sterling and Bacary Sagna will be fit.

Eliaquim Mangala, Jesus Navas and Wilfried Bony are all available for selection again, while Cup goalkeeper Willy Caballero is expected to take over from Joe Hart.

City's fans have experienced a week of extremes, having seen a second-string team trounced 5-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup, before the big guns returned in an impressive 3-1 win at Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League last 16 first leg.

City are six points behind leaders Leicester City in the league, but Pellegrini believes that League Cup glory could prove the spur to Premier League success.

"It's my mentality to try to win all the time," said the Chilean. "To win in February one title, that gives you a lot of trust (belief) to continue fighting for other competitions.

"We are six points behind the leaders in the Premier League and we will continue to fight to the end."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIVERPOOL V MANCHESTER CITY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'A coveted trophy for both'. Print Edition | Subscribe