By Cameron Hogwood
The build up to tomorrow night’s Europa League final alone has defined the infectious belief amongst Liverpool fans and players.
Jurgen Klopp wanted believers when he first arrived on Merseyside and he has succeeded in orchestrating such a transformation in mentality in his tenure so far as manager.
Even before a ball has been kicked in Basel, Liverpool’s place in the final has triggered an exhibition of the hope and optimism Klopp has created.
Win or lose, the future looks bright under a manager whose presence has sparked significant progression from many supposedly ‘average’ players in such a short and busy period of time.
When discussing the idea of belief with Liverpoolfc.com, he said: “The problem with belief is you can’t be sure. That’s how it is. But, in my opinion, belief in our strength, belief in quality, belief in all the things around this team is the only chance to win the cup. Belief in our strength will be at 100 per cent before the game, for sure.”
There is the sense that this could be the beginning of something special for Klopp and Liverpool.
Victory would showcase just how crucial the arrival of a new manager has been for a group of players who, for much of the campaign, have been severely short of confidence and fight.
Those in red will not have the capacity of Anfield to feed on and will be in unfamiliar territory against a team who have been there and won it before.
It is for these reasons that the occasion stands as a huge test of character and a chance to reveal just how much quality these players can offer without a stadium full of Scousers cheering them on.
It will reveal whether they have truly learnt to play as winners.
Securing Champions League qualification with a win would not only recognise how capable Liverpool are of challenging the Premier League’s best again but it would also pose as a hugely impressive way of rounding off a ‘transition period’ for the club.
It would define a new era and an essence of new life around the place and would inevitably overshadow the club’s disappointing domestic season.
The side’s fifth place finish in 2005 was quickly forgotten when Steven Gerrard lifted the Champions League trophy in Istanbul and tomorrow night can have the same effect.
Wednesday night’s meeting with Sevilla will be a useful demonstration of how the players have learnt from their experiences in the Capital One Cup final defeat to Manchester City.
It will go to show how much of an impact Klopp has had on them with regards to helping them use their anger and upset as motivation.
Maximum energy, confidence and passion on a big European night will define their growth, no matter if they win or lose.
A repeat of the embarrassing performance in 2015’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley would confirm doubts over many players.
A loss altogether will spark questions over this squad and its ability to perform on the big stage.
Klopp has also been quick to highlight his opinion on the importance of coming out on top.
He said: “I am pretty sure if we don’t win the title nobody will think it’s a success.”
Europa League triumph would do several under pressure players a world of good in terms of staking a claim for a long term place at the club.
Defeat, however, could leave many exposed to the possible arrival of some high caliber names this summer.
The game will define whether or not this squad deserves a chance to rectify it’s failures in the league this season, whether it can be the group of players to take the club forward and whether they are deserved of the chance to continue playing under a world class manager.
A win would portray the season as a success given the poor start to the season and the quick turnaround in form that the players have produced.
Ultimately, this would also define a season of what could have been had key players been able to stay fit and on top form.
A loss would be demoralising and hugely frustrating considering Liverpool’s path to the final, however the improvements under Klopp are enough to suggest things are moving in the right direction and at a right speed.
The underdog mentality is one that seems to work well with Liverpool and fans will be keen to refrain from being too confident. There is no denying what a symbolic night it could be for the reds, though.