Finally, one of football’s worst kept secrets has been confirmed. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Jürgen Klopp has been announced as the man to replace Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool boss.
Sections of the club’s support have been calling for Rodgers’ sacking since last season, and when it was announced that Klopp would be leaving Dortmund the fans made it clear they wanted the charismatic German to take over.
The Liverpool board backed the manager though and Rodgers was still in charge for this season – at least to begin with. It would be unfair to say that last season was a failure, especially considering the loss of Luis Suarez and long term injuries to Daniel Sturridge. Yet, as it was announced that Steven Gerrard was leaving the club he had spent his whole career with and it became clear that golden boy Raheem Sterling was beginning to feel unsettled, Rodgers began to face questions.
Nobody could truthfully say they expected Liverpool to break back into the top four this season, especially having finished last season with a 6-1 defeat at Stoke. Yes, Liverpool made some impressive signings with the arrivals of Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner and Christian Benteke arguably being the standouts. But the loss of Sterling – to a Premiership rival too in Manchester City – and Steven Gerrard’s move to LA Galaxy presented the club with problems this season. Sterling didn’t have his best season last time out but he remained one of their best attacking players. And Gerrard was more than just a top class midfielder for them. He was their leader and their inspiration on the pitch.
Many doubted that Rodgers could get the current squad performing the way they should be. Sure, there was never any doubt that the players were behind the manager. But it seemed that there was an over-reliance on Daniel Sturridge even with the £32.5m arrival of Benteke.
Rodgers’ press conferences were becoming repetitive – making excuses and talking about his philosophy in defeat, and talking up the team in victory. Fans of his club – and others – began to mock his apparent overuse of the word ‘character’ when referring to the side. And some will be glad to see the back of him.
Yes, he gave Liverpool their most exciting season in years when they ran Manchester City close in the title race of 2014/15. Yes, he’s managed to get the best out of players such as Sturridge and Jordan Henderson – who he made skipper. But for all his talk of character, he’s been replaced at the helm by one of the biggest characters in the game.
Klopp won the hearts and minds of every single Borussia Dortmund fan – and many neutrals – between 2008 and 2015. He was a charismatic figure as the club won two Bundesliga titles, a German cup and got to a Champions League final in his tenure.
But for all of his charm it is worth noting that any manager that achieves back to back titles in Germany – especially when they’re not in charge of the ever-dominant Bayern Munich – has to have some tactical nous.
When he took over at Dortmund they had just finished 13th in the Bundesliga. He led them to a 6th placed finish, then a fifth placed finish before the back to back title wins. He also unearthed a few gems at the club, with Bayern’s talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski getting his big break under Klopp as well as World Cup final goalscorer Mario Gotze. If those two are gems that Dortmund regret selling, current star man Marco Reus is perhaps the best of the rest.
Perhaps then, he is the ideal man to take the reins at Liverpool. They are a historically successful club that are underachieving at the moment. They have a passionate set of fans – something Klopp could always rely on at Dortmund. They also have potential and some exciting players.
Sure, Klopp will be linked with the likes of Reus and countless other players that made his time at Dortmund so successful, but if he can even slightly emulate what he achieved in Germany he will be a success at Anfield.
Something for Liverpool fans to get excited about is that Klopp has previously outwitted Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal when the Dutchman was at Bayern, and he also knocked Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho out of the Champions League when the Portuguese was at Real Madrid.
However, Klopp would be the first to admit past success means nothing and he will be demanding a high work rate and hoping for instant results. His first game will be away to Tottenham on October 17th in a must watch match.
With Liverpool just six points from the top of the Premiership and three points off the top four, his arrival could be just what the club needs to make waves in the race at the top of the league.