Sitting pretty atop the Premier League table as 2023 turned to 2024, all was rosy in the Liverpool garden, with the Anfield men back to playing the type of “heavy metal” football which took them to the summit of the European game. Through to the Carabao Cup Final and still in the FA Cup and Europa League, 2024 boasts the potential to be a golden year for the red side of Merseyside.
However, this year will also represent the end of an era for the club, with late January bringing the surprising news that Jurgen Klopp will leave his role at the end of the current campaign. Klopp broke the news – which few fans, players or pundits saw coming – in a video announcement to the fans, and it’s hard to overestimate just how tough he will be to replace.
Why Now Jürgen?
Whenever a manager departs seemingly at the peak of his powers, the rumour mills will inevitably begin to churn. Has something happened behind the scenes? Has another club made Klopp an irresistible offer?
In this instance, neither scenario appears to be true, with the real reason being more straightforward: Klopp simply needs a break. This is a perfectly understandable explanation, following eight and a half years in charge of one of the most high-profile clubs in the global game and the relentless pressure of life in the Premier League. The man himself summed up as follows, “It is that I am, how can I say it, running out of energy.” Nothing serious, thankfully, with Klopp keen to stress that he is fine but deems that the time is now right to take a much-needed step back.
An Anfield Legend
Liverpool supporters will no doubt be bitterly disappointed by the news, particularly with the club now firmly in the ascendency following a subpar 2022/23 campaign. However, few will begrudge the man who has given so much to the club for making a decision that is right for himself. Rather than complaints, Klopp seems more likely to have statues erected in his honour for returning the good times to Anfield in spectacular fashion.
Signing on the dotted line as a replacement for Brendan Rodgers back in 2015, Klopp set out with the aim of delivering silverware within four years. Rarely a man to miss his targets, the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss delivered on the biggest stage of all, when leading the Reds to a 2-0 success over Tottenham Hotspur in the 2018/19 Champions League Final – handing the club a second victory in the toughest club competition in the world, and a sixth overall counting the old European Cup format.
That spectacular success opened the floodgates for Liverpool, with the Champions League triumph followed by the UEFA Super Cup (2019) and the FIFA Club World Cup (2019). That 2018/19 season also saw Liverpool become possibly the greatest side not to win the Premier League when finishing second to Manchester City despite amassing a huge 97-point haul. Rather than retreating to lick their wounds, a Klopp-inspired Liverpool rebounded to blow everyone away in 2019/20, losing only three times on their way to a 99-point tally and winning the Premier League title with seven games to spare – ultimately finishing 18 points clear of Manchester City.
As the man who led Liverpool to their first domestic title in 30 years, Jurgen had already assured a place in Liverpool folklore – but he wasn’t done yet, adding the FA Cup (2022), the Carabao Cup (2022), and the Community Shield (2022) to his increasingly impressive haul.
Ending on a High?
Given that stellar record in the dugout and the assault of “Liverpool 2.0” on the 2023/24 season, few would bet against Klopp leaving on the right note by adding yet another trophy (or four!) to the cabinet.
Leading the way in the Premier League, Liverpool sit five points clear of defending champions Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s troops having a game in hand. The blockbuster Liverpool vs Man City clash at Anfield on 9th March may prove pivotal in a race which may go down to the wire.
European triumph may also be on the horizon, with Liverpool comfortably through to the last 16 of the Europa League, having topped their group. AC Milan and Bayer Leverkusen are among the more likely challengers, but Liverpool look worthy of their status as the clear favourites in the betting market.
Turning to the domestic cup competitions, Liverpool made it past a major potential stumbling block when dumping Arsenal out of the FA Cup at the Emirates before breezing past Norwich City at Anfield. Next up, it’s a home clash with Watford or Southampton for a place in the quarter-finals.
Liverpool and Klopp may already have secured silverware for the season by the time the Last 16 FA Cup fixture comes around, with their clash with Chelsea in the Carabao Cup Final scheduled for 25th February. For much of the 2021/22 season, Liverpool looked to be in with a real shot of an unprecedented quadruple. Two years on, could Klopp head off into the sunset on the back of a season to beat all others?
What Next for Jürgen?
Just how long Jurgen puts his feet up for remains to be seen. He is, after all, still only 56 years of age, and judging by his touchline performances, the passion and fire for the game still burns bright. Will the man behind one of the most all-action pressing styles of the modern era prove a natural fit for the beaches of Mallorca? Maybe. But, then again, maybe not.
Whether he is away for a year, two years, or longer, most fans and pundits expect to see Klopp back in the dugout at some point, and the wheels of the speculation machine have already begun churning in an effort to predict where his destination might be. The standard names of Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, and any Saudi Arabian team are all rated as potential next stops on the Klopp tour.
However, given Klopp’s comments on the toll the club game has taken on his energy levels, a move onto the international scene would appear a more logical step. With German football at a low ebb, those in charge must surely be thinking about handing the reins to the world’s greatest German manager.