Jurgen Klopp's reign as Liverpool manager has been impressive, with the German transforming the club from perennial stragglers to a side regularly competing for European and Premier League titles in almost four years at Anfield.
For those who hold the opinion that winning silverware is the true way to a judge a manager's success, however, they will point out his not-so-flattering record in finals and come up with a conclusion of their own.
As manager of Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, Klopp has reached a total of eight finals - the most recent being this season's Champions League - but he has lost the last six in a row and has yet to lift a single trophy with the Merseysiders.
It is unfair to glibly dismiss Klopp as a failure when considering his six final defeats without taking into account the opposition, circumstances and the nature of the undoing. After all, how many managers amass 97 points in the Premier League yet still don't win the title? Surely there is some dark magic at work?
The idea of a 'curse' involving Klopp at Liverpool was floating around just a few months into his reign at Anfield after he took the club to the Europa League and League Cup finals only to lose both.
Prior to his appointment to Liverpool, he guided Dortmund to four finals and lost all but one. Most notably is, of course, the 2-1 loss to Klassiker rivals Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League final.
Klopp's curiously unsuccessful quest for trophies at Anfield, combined with Liverpool not having won the league title since 1992, has caused some Reds fans to bemoan that their club has been a victim of dark arts.
Rewind to the 2018 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid - a game that was clouded with controversy.
The Reds were underdogs at the outset of the competition, but full of confidence ahead of their meeting with the Spanish giants thanks to the goal-scoring exploits of the attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, which helped them overcome Porto, Manchester City and Roma.
But everything turned pear-shaped for Liverpool barely midway through the first half when they lost Salah - their most prolific marksman - to injury after he became entangled in a nasty Sergio Ramos challenge.
The Egypt striker, who finished the campaign as Liverpool's top scorer, having broken numerous goalscoring records in his debut season at Anfield, was seen as the Reds' best chance of defeating Real Madrid.
The result of the Ramos challenge was that Salah was forced off the pitch with a shoulder injury, unable to continue and Liverpool lost their talisman before half-time. They ended up losing the final 3-1.
The controversy that accompanied Salah's ejection from the 2018 Champions League final served to further the idea that Klopp – and Liverpool – were fighting some otherworldly, malignant forces and that the German was indeed cursed.
The following season, Liverpool became surprise title challengers halfway through the campaign, with reigning champions Manchester City the only other outright challenger. By the final game of the season, the Reds had already eclipsed the club's record total of points in a Premier League campaign and they finished with an astronomical 97 on the board.
To put that number into perspective, it is the third-highest points tally in the history of the Premier League – surpassed only by City in 2017-18 with 100 points and City again in 2018-19 with 98 points. City were crowned champions with one excruciating point above Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp's finals record
|Final||Competition||Win / Loss|
|Borussia Dortmund 5-2 Bayern Munich (2012)||DFB Pokal||Win|
|Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich (2013)||Champions League||Loss|
|Borussia Dortmund 0-2 Bayern Munich (2014)||DFB Pokal||Loss|
|Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Wolfsburg (2015)||DFB Pokal||Loss|
|Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City (1-3P) (2016)||League Cup||Loss|
|Liverpool 1-3 Sevilla (2016)||Europa League||Loss|
|Liverpool 1-3 Real Madrid (2018)||Champions League||Loss|
|Liverpool vs Tottenham (2019)||Champions League||?|
The Reds had their best season by far in the Premier League era in 2018-19, and a 97-point haul would have been enough for them to win the league every other season save for the most recent, and 2017-18 – which were both won by the Citizens.
The Reds have not won a league title in almost 30 years, yet the most recent campaign looked to be the one where they would finally deliver. They previously challenged for the title twice in the last decade, in the 2008-09 and 2013-14 season when they finished in second place to United and City, respectively, though this year was their most convincing effort yet.
In a cruel twist of fate, Liverpool's only defeat of the season came against City at the Etihad. That sole defeat to Pep Guardiola's side in January proved very costly for the Merseyside club's quest for the title. It was a devastating way to finish an exhilarating campaign which saw Liverpool finish more than 20 points ahead of Tottenham and Chelsea, who started the season among the title favourites.
Despite the six-year drought in finals, Klopp doesn't believe in the idea of a curse or the notion that certain forces are at work to prevent both him and Liverpool from winning a trophy. “I was never cursed, I don’t feel cursed,” the German said. "I don't think that way at all.
“As far as I know I’m healthy, my family is healthy, I do the job I love. That makes me already a very fortunate person.
“I don’t think somebody has to win more than others or whatever, I try everything I can.
“If it happens then it happens, if not, then not. I am not ready to let these things take me down. I was never like this.
“I think now these defeats are the biggest defeats in my life. But you ask me 30 years before I became a manager I had defeats in my life which I felt were the biggest in my life. But I still carried on. So for me that’s what life is about.
“Try everything you can. Take and get what you can and if not try it again if you are ready for it. And I am ready for it. That is what I am.”
What Klopp does believe in, however, is heart, and Liverpool had plenty of it when they overcame the odds to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the 2018-19 Champions League semi-final, booking a spot in the final in Madrid on June 1.
It looked to be the end of the road for Liverpool after they lost the first leg 3-0, but Klopp managed to inspire his team to do the unthinkable at Anfield, and stun the Catalan giants – who were overwhelming favourites to win the competition – to a 4-0 loss on Merseyside.
But was that good management, or simply just good fortune? Perhaps Liverpool lifting their sixth Champions League trophy in Madrid is the only way to 'break' the curse.