Josh Barker: Liverpool’s mentality can win them the quadruple

The quadruple is something that has never been achieved in the history of the Premier League (unless you count the Community Shield, and most people do not).

This season, after seeing off Chelsea in the League Cup final, Liverpool have a chance to make history and send off Jurgen Klopp with a staggering four trophies. Granted, one of them would be the Europa League and not the Champions League but four major trophies in one season is still impressive no matter what they are.

However, if you looked at Liverpool’s team of late and the matchday squads being put out by Klopp, you would not expect them to be anywhere close to challenging for so much silverware.

Liverpool had nearly a full starting line-up missing for the League Cup final and by the time the game finished, they were essentially fielding a group of youngsters with Virgil van Dijk at the back.

As a result, many expected Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea to go on and dominate extra time and win the cup. In the end, though, van Dijk’s 118th-minute goal secured Liverpool their first trophy of 2023/24.

Van Dijk should be given immense credit for his role in the League Cup win. As well as scoring the winner, the Dutchman took up the role of elder statesman in the XI, leading from the front and pushing his young teammates forward.

The majority of the credit for Liverpool’s success should, however, be given to Klopp. The German has previously labelled the Reds as ‘mentality monsters’ and while that is a catchy phrase to throw out in pressers, it does have an element of truth.

As already mentioned, Liverpool ended the League Cup final with a host of youngsters on the pitch, the majority of whom have only played a handful of senior games for the Merseysiders. But rather than being consumed by the occasion, Liverpool’s under-21 stars dominated extra time and made Chelsea’s £1b squad look like the inexperienced side.

Liverpool’s winning mentality was on display once again this past weekend vs Nottingham Forest. Klopp was able to welcome back a few players to the bench for the trip to the City Ground but the Reds were still without nine senior players for the clash, including Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota.

As was to be expected with so many big names missing, Liverpool did struggle somewhat to break down Forest away from home.

The Reds were in a worrying position as full-time approached at the end of eight stoppage-time minutes at the City Ground. They looked on course for a 0-0 stalemate that would open the door for both Manchester City and Arsenal to overtake them in the Premier League standings with matches later in the gameweek.

However, substitute Darwin Nunez met with an Alexis Mac Allister cross and headed in Liverpool’s latest-ever Premier League winner at 98 minutes and 38 seconds.

Former Premier League goalkeeper Paul Robinson summed up Liverpool’s display very well on Saturday: “Liverpool didn’t stop. They were not at their best today, but they made changes and looked a lot better - the credit you have to give Liverpool is they didn’t go away.

“You talk about champions, this is what champions do. A team with a winning mentality, it was there in abundance today and this will be a huge win in Liverpool’s season.”

Liverpool have now scored a 90th-minute winner in 18 Premier League games under Jurgen Klopp, more than any other team since the German took over in 2015.

Moreover, substitutes have contributed to 43 goals for Liverpool this season (21 goals, 22 assists), the most of any side in Europe’s big-five leagues.

Both statistics are great examples of the impressive mentality on display at Anfield this season, especially when you consider Liverpool have been playing with a weakened squad for basically all of 2024 so far.

Next up is a home clash with second-place Manchester City on March 10 and if Liverpool can secure three points in that tie, it is hard to see them losing the league title this term.

Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.