Paul Ince: Liverpool winning the final doesn’t make up for losing the title

This Champions League final isn’t a foregone conclusion for the tired Reds and I'm sure they're still feeling the sting of losing out on the Premier League.


Liverpool and Tottenham have taken different routes to get to the Champions League final. Even in the group stages, Spurs struggled to get to there, while Liverpool looked comfortable apart from the first leg in Barcelona.

For Jurgen Klopp, he kept the intensity up for the duration of the season while chasing Man City in the Premier League, and he’s also got his team into the Champions League final.

It would have taken a lot of energy out of the squad, and deep down, we all know that the Premier League comes first for Liverpool. But to have chased City to the end of the season, and then to be in the final in Madrid, is an incredible achievement. What a great job Klopp has done.

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Mauricio Pochettino’s task to get there shouldn’t be belittled either. It’s been a tough season for Spurs, and to go into those European games without Harry Kane, and with such a small budget unlike Liverpool, Man City or Man United is incredible.

A lot of people will be heartbroken at either of them losing out – because of how hard they’ve worked to get there.

The Champions League final isn’t a foregone conclusion though, Liverpool will be knackered from trying to chase Man City.

If I was Pochettino, I’d be saying that they’ve had a very, very tough season. They’ve exhausted themselves trying to chase City – and will they be feeling that during the final? It will definitely have taken its toll.

Losing out to City in the Premier League will have not only taken its toll on Liverpool physically, but mentally too. When you finish the season like that, and have a three week wait for the final, that’s draining for anyone – never mind if you’ve just missed out on the title.

Winning the Champions League won’t make up for losing out on the title

For Liverpool, winning the Champions League wouldn’t make up for losing out on the Premier League title.

The disappointment of losing it on the last day of the season will be huge. There’ll be nothing that can replace the league title, but winning the European Cup would come close. I hear people saying that if Klopp loses this final, he’s a bottler.

Let me tell you something right now, people who say things like that – I can’t even find the word to describe them.

How can you call Liverpool bottlers?

They’ve pushed City to the last game of the season, they’re in the Champions League final and they were in it last year too. Yes, they were nervous and lost out, but they’ve clearly not let it get to them.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – MAY 01: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Barcelona and Liverpool at the Nou Camp on May 01, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

It’s completely disrespectful to call them or Klopp a bottler. We all know that as a manager you have to win some silverware, but Pochettino is in the same position.

Both teams have proved that when they can dig in and get a result. When you look what’s happened since Klopp took over – he’s done an amazing job, a job no one else could have come in and done.

The only thing I would say is that if Klopp fails to win this weekend, perhaps it would be a case of putting more focus in securing a League Cup or an FA Cup, to ensure you have trophies in the cabinet and the winning mentality.

But, to call Liverpool or Klopp a ‘bottler’ is a disgrace – utterly ridiculous, whether they win or lose on Saturday.

Pochettino shouldn’t give Kane a starting place in the final

For Tottenham, it’s huge news that Kane is fit enough to play in the final. But, I don’t believe he should get a starting spot.

When I look at what Lucas Moura has done, or Son Heung-min, they look like different players. Spurs look like a different team without Kane and that’s no disrespect to him. Also, when you look at Kane, I believe Virgil van Dijk would relish the challenge to get to play against him. He’ll be hoping that Pochettino decides to start him.

He’d love it, but would he love to play a different kind of centre-forward? I’m not sure.

It’s a great option to have, and he’ll expect to start, but he hasn’t played for weeks and you can’t just chuck him into a European final like that.

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