Jurgen Klopp has announced he is to leave Liverpool at the end of the season but why is he going? What does this mean for Liverpool? Who will replace him? What next for Klopp? We take a look at the six key questions facing the club and the coach…
Image: Jurgen Klopp's announcement that he is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season raises questions
“I can understand this is a shock for a lot of people,” said Jurgen Klopp upon announcing his decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season. That is an understatement. But what are the key questions following the news that he is departing Anfield?
Why is now the right time for Klopp to leave?
The message from Klopp was that this was a personal decision rather than something initiated as a result of outside factors, from his own health to any relationships at the club. One of the themes of his address was that it is exhausting to keep going to the well.
“I am running out of energy. I am absolutely fine now but I know I cannot do the job again and again and again.” This was an epiphany to him as much as anyone, realising when asked about plans for next pre-season that he did not necessarily envisage himself there.
“The one thing I had not anticipated is that my energy source is not endless.” Klopp is self-aware enough to appreciate that his success has been built on being totally committed. It is impossible for any Liverpool manager to flourish in the role without that commitment.
Why leave when Liverpool are doing so well?
Klopp suggested that he had begun to think about his future when Liverpool were enduring a “super difficult season” last time around, languishing down in eighth place in the Premier League table as late as mid-April before the team rallied to secure European football.
It was a matter of pride to leave Liverpool in better shape than that. “To help bring this team back on the rails.” Walking away after what looks like it could be a successful season and with a new team taking shape, “a wonderful platform” he called it, is more satisfying.
There has been much talk of Liverpool 2.0 and that remains true. Klopp will feel that he has begun the process of managing that transition with legends leaving and new heroes emerging. “My role will change. A lot of other things stay the same. The future is bright.”
The Anfield Wrap’s John Gibbons admits he is in shock after Klopp’s announcement
Why is Klopp announcing this mid-season?
Klopp acknowledged that in an ideal scenario he would have won everything at the end of the season and then revealed he would be departing immediately. That is how Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United having won his final Premier League title in 2013.
Keeping that quiet would have been tricky given the people who needed to know about his decision but this move is more than about just preventing leaks. Being transparent about his exit affords Liverpool the opportunity to succeed where United failed.
The succession planning at Old Trafford proved notoriously awkward and they missed out on better candidates because of the timing. When Klopp talks of “giving the club time to find a successor” that feels like more than mere lip service, it is a tangible benefit.
Who will be the next Liverpool manager?
Xabi Alonso would appear to be the standout candidate. The former Liverpool midfielder was strongly linked with another of his old clubs Real Madrid when Carlo Ancelotti looked set to take the Brazil job but, with that situation having changed, a path is clear.
The Basque coach has guided Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga table. Following a sensational start to his first full season in charge of the German club, still unbeaten in all competitions, Bayern Munich’s remarkable run of consecutive titles could end at 11.
Alonso has won plaudits for his style of play, his tactical acumen and his ability to improve players. At 42, he is at the start of his coaching journey and is well placed to make a long-term commitment to build on the phenomenal success enjoyed under Klopp.
Former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique gives his initial reaction to the news
Does this risk disrupting Liverpool’s season?
Klopp admitted this was a fair question to ask, having done something a little similar at Borussia Dortmund when he announced his departure in April. There was no noticeable slump in form, that had come earlier, but Dortmund did lose in the German cup final.
There are bigger prizes available to Liverpool this season with the club still chasing an unlikely but potentially historic treble. They are top of the Premier League table having a booked a place in the Carabao Cup final and still in the FA Cup and Europa League.
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That should focus the minds of the players. There is little reason – or indeed time – for them to allow their own thoughts to drift to the future beyond this season. Glory is achievable in these coming months and that could yet have a galvanising effect on the group.
What next for Klopp’s career in football?
Klopp will be linked with many big jobs and eventually he may well take one but there will be nothing imminent. He is adamant that he will not take another role – for club or country – in the next 12 months so he will not be managing at Euro 2024, for example.
He talked of giving normal life a try after more than two decades in management and at 56 years old he is the fourth oldest manager currently working in the Premier League. But the emphasis was on a refresh rather than retirement. Expect Jurgen Klopp to return.