LONDON: For some it was the first major step in the Jurgen Klopp revolution. For others it papered over a Grand -Canyon-sized crack at Anfield. -Liverpool's Wembley progress contained elements of both as one of the most flawed teams in the club's history somehow find themselves on the verge of a major trophy.
Elation will not distract from how much more transformative work is required under Klopp. Liverpool did, after all, lose against Stoke City on Tuesday evening - the first home defeat the club have endured in the second leg of any semi-final at -Anfield. They barely created a chance in 120 minutes.
Adam Lallana revealed how -tempers flared in the home -dressing room as it seemed that another semi-final opportunity was slipping away. "In the first half we were poor and there were a few strong words at half-time. Not just from the manager but from ourselves," he said.
"We knew it. We told each other that we had to be more composed on the ball, to want the ball and play out from the back rather than -hitting it long, which we did a few too many times. It wasn't over the top like it was with Manchester United's players [at Anfield a few weeks ago]. We could hear it -kicking off from our dressing room. We tried to have a bit more structure but we all knew that we hadn't been good enough. It got better as the game went on. It wasn't a pretty game but it was all about getting through."
The deficiencies so evident in this side make Klopp's achievement more impressive. No Liverpool manager since 1959 has inherited a squad so bereft of experienced world-class players. For all the -confidence the German coach has shown in his inheritance, the question this summer is not whether there will be major squad changes but how broad they will be.
He has already shown his hand by recruiting a central midfielder for next summer (Marko Grujic from Red Star Belgrade), bidding for the Shakhtar Donetsk attacker Alex Teixeira and putting in place a summer deal for a centre-back -(either Schalke's Joel Matip, Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic or both). There will be a new spine to the team by next August. But Liverpool's hopes of signing Teixeira in this window are -receding, with the player expressing his frustration at the rejection of the club's bid of pounds 22.5?million.
"The team received one official offer from Liverpool. It was rejected. I don't know why," Teixeira said. "It was a great offer. It is frustrating but the manager and club president decided against it so now I am just waiting, trying to be patient.
"It is a huge club so many great players have passed through there. It would be an honour to defend the Liverpool shirt."
There is no healthier habit for a coach than to be successful while in transition rather than being stuck in the cycle of ceaseless promise. Klopp has led his side to a Wembley final quicker than any of his -pre-decessors and the talk among the players is of using the penalty shoot-out win as a springboard.
James Milner sees echoes of the start of Roberto Mancini's reign at Manchester City, believing that if one cup is secured others will swiftly follow. "Winning the FA Cup [at City] gave us the belief that we could go and win trophies," Milner said. "The first one is always important, to have that winning habit; to get over the line."