Where have six years gone? It seems like yesterday that Jürgen Klopp was walking through the gates of Anfield, smiling at his new surroundings, taking in his new home. Even the most optimistic Liverpool fans could not have expected Klopp to deliver a Champions League and Premier League title in his first five years in charge.
From the position the team was in under Brendan Rodgers when he took over in October 2015, it seemed impossible. Klopp found a way, and those memorable victories, combined with his unique personality, will ensure that he is a Liverpool legend forever.
While it is nice to mark this anniversary of the German’s arrival, there is also a sense that the clock is ticking. Klopp has said repeatedly that he plans to take a break after the 2023-24 season, which means that after the current campaign, we will only have two more full seasons of Klopp in the Liverpool hotseat.
Such has been his impact at the club, it’s hard to imagine anyone else patrolling the technical area at Anfield. The passion he has brought to the job has reawakened that same fervour in the supporters, who have been blessed to witness some of the club’s greatest performances of all time during the last six years. Could any other manager have delivered the epic comebacks against Borussia Dortmund or Barcelona? Or the ruthless wins over Manchester City at Anfield? Probably not, but at some stage Liverpool will need to plan for a future without the German.
Of course, there is plenty of time for Klopp to change his mind, and he may well decide that he can’t let go of the club he has brought to such heights. A lot may depend on what happens between now and then. If Liverpool suffer a decline in the next couple of years, as the powers of their title-winning squad begin to wane, Klopp may feel it is the right time to move on and let someone else come in to rebuild. But were the German to lead Liverpool to more major trophies, and maintain the team’s strong position in the Premier League winner odds from Betfair, it may prove difficult to cut ties.
A lot of Liverpool fans see Steven Gerrard as a natural heir to the Liverpool throne. The Anfield legend has done a fine job at Rangers, steering the club to their first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years, and fostering a strong winning mentality at the club. The only question lies over whether it would simply be too emotional an appointment. Pressure would be ramped up due to Gerrard’s history with the club, and you only need to look at Mikel Arteta at Arsenal and Ole Gunnar Solskjær at Manchester United to know that appointing former players doesn’t always yield trophies or favourite status in the Premier League betting tips.
Another contender to take over from Klopp is his assistant Pepijn Linders, who has been a major factor in Liverpool’s success. But after a lengthy time at the club himself, bar four months dipping his feet in management with NEC Nijmegen , he too might feel ready for a new challenge when Klopp decides enough is enough.
Thinking ahead to that summer of 2024 will cause Liverpool fans to worry. Between the departure of Rafael Benítez in 2010 and the arrival of Klopp in 2015, the club didn’t get their managerial appointments right. Roy Hodgson’s short spell in charge was a disaster, Kenny Dalglish’s return to Liverpool ultimately turned sour, and while Brendan Rodgers almost led the club to the Premier League title, he didn’t have the wherewithal to ensure the team were consistently challenging at the top.
Klopp was a marquee appointment, and Liverpool would be hard-pressed to find another manager who is so perfectly suited to the culture of the club. The German gets Liverpool and what the club stands for, and that is something that can’t be defined by win percentages or trophies. It will be a sad day if he does decide to hang up his LFC baseball cap in the summer of 2024, and the pressure will be on Liverpool’s owners to get the right person in to take over.