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Painful Liverpool defeat shows major rebuild is still required at Anfield

By Tim Rich

Published 19/05/2016

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge looks dejected after the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland.David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge looks dejected after the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland.David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Emre Can looks dejected during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Liverpool's James Milner shows his dejection during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool supporters look dejected in the stands during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Mariano of Sevilla and Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool compete for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Coke of Sevilla celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Coke of Sevilla celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Coke of Sevilla celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Kevin Gameiro of Sevilla celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Kevin Gameiro of Sevilla celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Sevilla's French forward Kevin Gameiro (R) runs with the ball towards the goal theduring the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINIFABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's English forward Daniel Sturridge (3rd R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / MICHAEL BUHOLZERMICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's English forward Daniel Sturridge celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / MICHAEL BUHOLZERMICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's English defender Nathaniel Clyne (L) vies with Sevilla's midfielder Vitolo during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINIFABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's German head coach Jurgen Klopp reacts after Liverpool opened the score during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge scores his side's first goal of the game during the match at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Dejan Lovren (right) and Sevilla's Kevin Gameiro (centre) argue during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool's English midfielder Adam Lallana (L) heads the ball next to Sevilla's Polish midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINIFABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
ACCRINGTON, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Darius Charles of AFC Wimbledon and Billy Kee of Accrington Stanley battle for the ball during the Sky Bet League Two play off, Second Leg match between Accrington Stanley and AFC Wimbledon at The Crown Ground on May 18, 2016 in Accrington, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Liverpool substitute players celebrate their team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Referee Jonas Eriksson separates Kevin Gameiro (2nd R) of Sevilla and Dejan Lovren (1st L) of Liverpool after Lovren's foul during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: James Milner of Liverpool and Yevhen Konoplyanka of Sevilla compete for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Alberto Moreno (right) and Sevilla's Filho Mariano battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Kolo Toure (right) and Sevilla's Ever Banega (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Sevilla's Spanish defender Sergio Escudero (L) and Liverpool's English midfielder Adam Lallana vie for the ball during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANOJAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's English defender Nathaniel Clyne (L) vies with Sevilla's midfielder Vitolo during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's Belgian forward Divock Origi (L) vies with Sevilla's midfielder Vitolo during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Sevilla's French midfielder Steven N'Zonzi (L) heads the ball next to Liverpool's German midfielder Emre Can during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's (L) and Sevilla's players line up prior to the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANOJAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Vitolo of Sevilla and Adam Lallana of Liverpool compete for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool controls the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool appeals during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Daniel Carrico of Sevilla clears the ball during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool shoots at goal during the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Liverpool supporters before the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. David Davies/PA Wire
Police inside the ground before the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
A Liverpool supporter holds a scarf prior to the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN BOZONSEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images
A Liverpool supporter holds a scarf prior to the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN BOZONSEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's supporters cheer their team prior to the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINIFABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's supporters cheer prior to the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN BOZONSEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Sevilla supporters enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Sevilla supporters enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Liverpool supporters enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Liverpool players warm up during the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge before the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland.David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool's supporters hold a banner reading "you'll never walk alone" prior to the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINIFABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool points prior to the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool smiles prior to the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - MAY 18: A Liverpool fan poses prior to the UEFA Europa League Final match between Liverpool and Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park on May 18, 2016 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Liverpool fans gather outside St. Jakob-Park before the UEFA Europa League Final. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
A young Liverpool supporters shows his support ahead of the Europa League Final which is being screened at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. Peter Byrne/PA Wire
A view of the Europa League Trophy ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool supporters before the UEFA Europa League Final at St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland. David Davies/PA Wire.
Liverpool fans take a selfie on their way to St. Jakob-Park before the UEFA Europa League Final, Switzerland. Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Liverpool fans gather outside St. Jakob-Park before the UEFA Europa League Final. Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Rafa Benitez was sitting in the press room at Anfield which once upon a time was where men like Bill Shankly, Ronnie Moran and Bob Paisley used to come and talk football. The Boot Room.

On the walls were photographs of the players who a couple of years before had won Liverpool their fifth European Cup.

"You wouldn't believe how difficult it was to find anyone who wanted to buy these players," said Benitez.

Benitez was saying the team that had performed the 'Miracle of Istanbul' was at its core a moderate collection of players and he considered the majority surplus to his long-term plans.

He would not have been averse to selling Steven Gerrard to Chelsea if the price had been right.

When he arrived on Merseyside, you wonder how many of the Liverpool squad Jurgen Klopp thought worth keeping.

Was Alberto Moreno the kind of full-back he required? Was Simon Mignolet one of the best four goalkeepers in the Premier League? How many of his centre-halves would thrive in the big Champions League squads?

Klopp would have known the answers long before the 25 disastrous minutes that cost Liverpool everything in Basel.

It says something that Christian Benteke, the forward on whom Liverpool's transfer committee had blown most of the money they received from Manchester City for Raheem Sterling, was considered a last, desperate fling of the dice.

By then, Liverpool required two goals in less than 10 minutes merely to force extra-time against Sevilla.

Dejected Liverpool fans watch on at The Bot as Sevilla win the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
Dejected Liverpool fans watch on at The Bot as Sevilla win the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
Dejected Liverpool fans watch on at The Bot as Sevilla take the lead in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
Dejected Liverpool fans watch on at The Bot as Sevilla win the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
Dejected Liverpool fans watch on at The Bot as Sevilla win the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
Dejected Liverpool fan watching the match at The Bot can't watch as Sevilla take the lead in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
Dejected Liverpool fan watch on at The Bot as Sevilla take the lead in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
People out at The Bot to watch Liverpool v Sevilla in the Europa League Final. Wednesday 18th May 2016. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Klopp had inherited a club that had come within an ace of winning a Premier League title.

His achievement in driving Liverpool forward is undeniable. It would be wishful thinking to imagine he can achieve much more with the players who were by turns impressive and invisible in Switzerland.

Klopp would have had many doubts about Daniel Sturridge. Not in terms of ability - Graeme Souness thought him technically as good as any in England.

However, Sturridge has suffered 33 separate injuries and you cannot coach an injured player. He had been left out of the side that was beaten 1-0 in the first leg of the semi-final at Villarreal and responded with a desultory display in defeat at Swansea.

The goal he scored in a first-half that Liverpool ran with what seemed astonishing ease was an answer to his critics, beautifully and deliciously struck with the outside of his left boot. Had he timed his run a fraction better, Sturridge would have scored a second before the interval.

Sevilla were not the kind of team that could be brushed aside for very long and for all the noise of the Liverpool crowd, the sound that will linger is that of Daniel Carrico lying on his back after the final whistle and howling with joy.

Liverpool probably deserved to win the trophy. They had been in the Europa League from the start, convincingly beaten Manchester United, pulled off an astonishing recovery against Borussia Dortmund. But it was not enough.

Ten years before, Middlesbrough had done something similar, reaching what was then the Uefa Cup final after breathless turnarounds against Basel and Steaua Bucharest. They were then humiliated in the final against a team that on the night was far, far better. That team was Sevilla.

Belfast Telegraph

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