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Liverpool’s League Cup win shows next manager will have every chance of success

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On the face of it, Jurgen Klopp lifting his eighth trophy in eight-and-a-half years at Liverpool should have done little to discourage the notion that only a fool would succeed him.

The German is heading towards an emotional departure from Anfield at the end of this season, and appears hell bent on using every game until then to prove that he will be a hard act to follow.

Never was that more true than on Sunday, when he led a patched-up Reds side reliant on a teenage supporting cast to an improbable victory over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final.

Yet, while fans would have been forgiven for viewing this as potentially one of the last great days of Klopp’s remarkable tenure, there was nothing bittersweet about victory at Wembley.

There was no feeling that this was the last hurrah of a glorious era, or that these days will disappear once the current campaign comes to a close.

And that is because Klopp has already ensured that his Anfield legacy will be so much greater than the numerous amendments made to the ‘Wall of Champions’ during his reign.

Only last summer, the 56-year-old oversaw a midfield rebuild that not only added real quality, but also served to bring the average age of the squad as a whole down – a crucial factor in terms of what comes next.

But the manager’s impact runs far deeper than the first team he leaves behind, as evidenced by the sight of Conor Bradley, Bobby Clark, James McConnell, Jayden Danns and Jarell Quansah celebrating on the Wembley pitch.

In the case of Bradley and Quansah, we have already seen enough to know that they will be long-term options for the next man in charge, while the feeling that Danns, McConnell and Clark have a genuine chance of joining them only grew on Sunday.

And we should not forget that Klopp gave debuts to two potential future captains in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones, or that there are also high hopes that both Trey Nyoni (16) and Amara Nallo (17) can step up next.

Conor Bradley, Ryan Gravenberch and James McConnell of Liverpool with the Carabao Cup in the dressing room after the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on February 25, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

For this reason, claims that the man to succeed Klopp will be Liverpool’s David Moyes or Unai Emery do not recognise that he is leaving a far healthier situation than either Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger managed to.

The winning culture that legendary duo imbued at Man United and Arsenal, respectively, did not sustain because they ultimately bequeathed squads incapable of doing so.

However, Klopp’s successor will not only inherit a group of winners, but also a perfect blend of experience and potential that, with smart management, has every chance of continued success.

“The future for this football club is bright,” Klopp said prior to presiding over another League Cup triumph. “Over the years we did it properly.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool celebrates after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

“They will be fine, 100 percent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t leave. In the end, everything will be fine. If it wasn’t going to be okay, I wouldn’t be leaving.”

Perhaps Pep Lijnders was acknowledging this in recently citing Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley as proof that the transition from a historically successful manager need not always be a painful one.

But, whether that was simply the Dutchman’s natural optimism shining through or not, Klopp has done everything he can to fulfil the Shankly role when his own managerial handover arrives.