Wembley win could be part of Pellegrini legacy or shape Klopp’s future
Simon Sinclair | February 26, 2016
Manuel Pellegrini will lead Manchester City out at Wembley for the final time during his tenure at the club when his side face off against Liverpool in the League Cup final.
The worst-kept secret in football was announced on transfer deadline day as the Citizens confirmed that Pep Guardiola will replace the Chilean at the end of this current campaign.
Pellegrini has the opportunity to ride off into the most glorious of sunsets by guiding City to an unprecedented treble, starting against the Reds on Sunday, when they are 13/10 with Coral to succeed.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp will be looking to kickstart his time with Liverpool with a trophy win at his first crack at a major final in England.
The now 62-year-old Pellegrini will have been under immense pressure during the week following his decision to leave many of his first-team players out of his starting line-up against Chelsea in fifth round of the FA Cup.
City were hammered 5-1 at Stamford despite a strong showing from their youngsters in the opening 45 minutes, as Pellegrini all but surrendered a place in the cup to focus on the Champions League and the League Cup.
The club have never progressed beyond the round of 16 in Europe’s elite competition, but produced a fine performance to defeat Dynamo Kiev 3-1 in their clash at the NSC Olimpiyskiy, leaving them in a commanding position in the tie.
Now that City have all but secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Pellegrini and his men now turn their attention to notching their third trophy in his reign at the Etihad Stadium.
Another League Cup his City’s sights?
The Chilean ended City’s 38-year drought in the League Cup when his side came from behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 at Wembley two seasons ago to earn his first piece of silverware at the club.
The triumph acted as a springboard as the club were able to reel in Liverpool and Chelsea by winning nine of their last 12 matches to clinch their second Premier League title.
Pellegrini and his players find themselves in a similar situation, trailing league leaders Leicester City by six points. However, City have proven to be a strong finishers in past seasons and a victory over the Reds could ignite a similar push towards further glory.
City’s star players Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure rallied during the week to inspire them to victory over Kiev.
The trio have barely played together this season and their presence has been sorely missed by the Citizens in their pursuit of the Premier League.
Should they show similar form against Liverpool to their display in Kiev they will have an excellent chance of securing the trophy, despite their crushing defeat at the hands of the Reds earlier this season.
As a result, the Citizens are favourites at 13/10 to lift the cup to begin what could be a perfect ending to Pellegrini’s reign at the club and prove to potential suitors that he remains a top quality manager.
Liverpool eye first success of Klopp era
Klopp will be looking to create a legacy of his own at Liverpool, five months into his reign at Anfield.
The Reds have struggled with inconsistency since the German’s arrival after he replaced Brendan Rodgers in October.
They have failed to string a solid run of results together, which will have disappointed the German, although they have been strong in the Capital One Cup, which has seen them secure a place in the final following their semi-final shootout win over Stoke City.
Klopp tasted success with Borussia Dortmund in the cup competitions just once in his seven-year reign, winning DFB-Pokal in the 2011/12 season along with the Bundesliga title.
His credentials with Die Schwarzgelben made him the outstanding candidate to take up the mantle at Anfield, where he faces a huge challenge to help the club regain their competitive edge in the Premier League.
Klopp seeks swift silverware success
A victory over City would be a huge achievement for the Reds this season, considering their inconsistent run in the Premier League.
Since Klopp’s arrival the club have always managed to lift their performances against the top teams in the division, including their 4-1 drubbing of Pellegrini’s men at the Etihad and a 3-1 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The return of Daniel Sturridge has added potency to the Reds’ attack, following his lengthy spell on the sidelines. Although the forward has yet to return to his prolific self in front of goal.
Their 26-year-old frontman provides a stronger threat than Christian Benteke, who has yet to thoroughly fire since his high-priced move from Aston Villa last summer.
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have begun to strike a dangerous partnership behind the frontman. The Brazilian duo will hold the key to Liverpool’s success in the final in the hope of exposing City’s fragile backline as they did back in November.
There is enough talent on the field and on the touchline to be hopeful for Liverpool fans for the future as Klopp will continue to mould the team into his own shape, with the odds of 23/10 suggesting that the club are unlikely to be victorious come the final whistle on Sunday.
However, a victory at Wembley would send a statement to the rest of the top clubs in England that the Reds are slowly starting to turn the corner and become a threat under the German.