Liverpool will find it impossible to replace Jurgen Klopp. They might find a top level manager to keep the team on the pitch moving forward with Xabi Alonso the frontrunner to take over at Anfield this summer, but Klopp has always been more than just a football manager. His exit will be felt by more than just Liverpool too.
The Premier League is currently the strongest league in the world and Klopp has driven a lot of interest in the English top flight over the last seven years. The German is a compelling character who knows how to set up a team to play exciting, entertaining football. He’s not bad for a quiet either. The Premier League is undoubtedly more interesting for having Klopp in it.
What’s more, Liverpool under Klopp are the only team who have managed to keep pace with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in recent times. The Premier League sells itself as being the most competitive of Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues, but the fact of the matter is City have won four of the last five titles. Liverpool have at least pushed them all the way more than once, winning the title themselves in 2019/20.
Premier League eras are often defined by the great managers that dominated them. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger’s rivalry remains the stuff of English football legend. Jose Mourinho might now be something of a punchline, but he was at the food of the Premier League food chain for a number of seasons over two title-winning spells at Chelsea.
Guardiola and Klopp, however, have set the Premier League zeitgeist in an unparalleled way. The pair have fundamentally changed the landscape in English football with countless teams across the country aiming to play like Liverpool and Manchester City. Their influence can even be seen in the profile of the young players now coming through at grassroots level.
Managers like Klopp don’t come along very often. The 56-year-old will be remembered as the best manager in Liverpool’s recent history with Germany in the same pantheon as Billy Shankly, Kenny Dalglish and Bob Paisley. He changed the Anfield club, but also Liverpool as a city which embraced Klopp as an honorary Scouser.
Some managers become an embodiment of the club they lead and Klopp is one of them as Liverpool boss. He moulded the Anfield outfit around him to such an extent that the team on the pitch now reflects his personality both as a tactician and a natural-born leader. Liverpool’s intensity highlights the energy of their coach on the touchline. Their winning spirit reflects his innate drive.
Along with Ferguson, Guardiola, Mourinho and Wenger, Klopp has already earned himself a reputation as one of the best managers in Premier League history. The German might have got his hands on the Premier League trophy only once, but his impact on English football can’t be quantified by the silverware he won.
Nonetheless, a second Premier League title in Klopp’s farewell season would add to his legend. Liverpool are currently top of the table in a season many anticipated would be a transitional one for a team that rebuilt its entire midfield last summer. That rebuild has taken root more quickly than anyone envisaged it would.
The Reds also have a Carabao Cup final to plan for and are still involved in the FA Cup and Europa League. Liverpool are fighting on all fronts and could finish the 2023/24 campaign – and Klopp’s Liverpool career – with a Quadruple of trophies. It would be fitting if Klopp signed off by putting on a show one final time.