Farewell to Jurgen Klopp – the manager Liverpool may find it impossible to replace

  • Jurgen Klopp departs Liverpool after eight-and-a-half years in charge
  • German ended 30-year wait for Premier League title and also won Champions League
  • Arne Slot faces huge challenge to build on foundations laid by Klopp

FROM ANFIELD – Attempting to strip emotion out of any analysis of Liverpool, a club so defined by it, would be a fool’s errand.

But as much as Kopites’ personal connection with Jurgen Klopp contributed to the special atmosphere of his Anfield farewell on Sunday, the fact the German’s inimitable character has been paired with sporting success is a key part of his appeal.

Klopp has brought every major trophy available to Anfield during his eight-and-a-half years in charge, and it is easy to forget how unthinkable such an achievement looked when he first arrived.

When he succeeded Brendan Rodgers in October 2015, Liverpool were a club that had qualified for the Champions League in just one of the last six seasons.

They were also heading for a 27th year without a league title, while even the most ardent fan would admit that their last major success, the 2005 Champions League win, had been achieved in fluke circumstances.

And yet Klopp ended waits for both trophies to be lifted before adding two League Cups, the FA Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, Community Shield, and the Club World Cup. And that haul of silverware would, of course, have been greater had Liverpool not come up against the greatest team in English football history, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, plus a Real Madrid side that has taken ownership of Europe’s premier competition.

Still, there can be no doubt either way that Klopp has restored the Reds to greatness, leaving behind a club that is in far ruder health than the one he walked into. As the man himself put it in his speech to supporters: “For whatever reason it doesn’t feel like an end, just the start because I saw a football team today full of talent, belief, youth, creativity and desire.

“This club is in a better moment than for a long time. Wonderful stadium, training centre, and you — the fans, a super power of world football. Wow!

“Since today I’m one of you and I will stay a believer 100 per cent. I saw a lot of people crying and that will happen to me but change is good and if you go into that with the right attitude then everything will be fine.”

Klopp was entirely right to make that point on the evidence provided by the matchday squad named. Yes, it featured experienced heads such as Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah, but the contributions of Jarell Quansah, Harvey Elliott and Conor Bradley are proof of the strong foundations in place.

While there are question marks over the contracts of Van Dijk, Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold, a return to the Champions League will ease any financial concerns when it comes to striking those deals.

The most optimistic of supporters may even wish to suggest that Liverpool could make short-term gains by moving to a slightly more controlled style of play than the all-out gegenpress seen in recent years.

If there has been one small downside to the later Klopp reign, it is that so many of their recent campaigns – including this one – have been derailed by injuries no doubt tied to the physical nature of the football played.

That said, most would insist that any long-term cost has ultimately been worthwhile given the seasons enjoyed by Liverpool supporters under Klopp, including numerous title challenges and now-habitual deep European runs. And perhaps the memories of those moments will be most decisive in terms of what comes next for Liverpool.

Arne Slot may well be coming into a club primed for further success by his genius predecessor, but the truth is that Klopp’s work may also have marked him out as an impossible act to follow.

Source: 90mins

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