Sport

NEVER WALKING ALONE

Klopp made many decisions that aided Liverpool, including announcing departure early 

Klopp made many decisions that aided Liverpool, including announcing departure early 
Jürgen Klopp will leave Liverpool at the end of the season after nine years in charge. (Photo: Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

In light of Liverpool’s recent run of form, which saw the club fall out of contention for the Premier League title, Europa League and FA Cup, Jürgen Klopp’s decision to announce his departure mid-season has come under extra scrutiny. 

When long-time Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp announced in January 2024 that he was departing the Merseyside club after nine memorable seasons, there was a sense of disbelief.

No one had seen it coming. Ever since he joined the Reds in late 2015, the charismatic German manager had deeply endeared himself to the passionate followers of Liverpool. Mostly because he was just as passionate as them, if not more.

From wild celebrations on the sidelines, to synchronised fist pumps with the sea of red after another magical match at Anfield stadium. Liverpool supporters revered King Klopp of the Kop during his almost-decade stay at the giant English club.

This bond with the supporters and the respect he had received from the hierarchy of the club for his revival of the club made the thought of him departing almost unimaginable. He seemed destined for an Alex Ferguson-esque tenure with the Merseysiders, until he dropped the bombshell of his departure, sending seismic reverberations throughout the global soccer community.

Bad timing?

But why make the announcement in mid-season, during a period where the Reds were locked in a three-way battle with Manchester City and Arsenal for the Premier League title? Not to mention that they were also vying for the Europa League crown, as well as the FA Cup.

Klopp attempted to explain his reasoning in a lengthy statement where he reminisced on the ups and downs during his time in England.

“I love absolutely everything about this club, I love everything about the city, I love everything about our supporters, I love the team, I love the staff. I love everything. But that I still take this decision shows you that I am convinced it is the one I have to take,” the German mentor stated.

“It is that I am, how can I say it, running out of energy… I know that I cannot do the job again and again and again and again,” Klopp continued.

“After the years we had together and after all the time we spent together and after all the things we went through together, the respect grew for you, the love grew for you and the least I owe you is the truth. And that is the truth.”

Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, Liverpool

Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez of Liverpool following their 2-0 loss to Everton, Liverpool, England. 24 April 2024. (Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Having already won the Carabao Cup by beating Chelsea 1-0 in the final, talk was of Klopp signing off in the most amazing way possible: by clinching an extraordinary quadruple trophy haul as a lap of honour.

In the last couple of months, this dream has melted away like a chocolate fireplace. Liverpool has been left to choke on the fumes of City and the Gunners in the sprint towards the Premier League finish line.

In the Europa, they were bundled out in the quarterfinals by Italian outfit Atalanta. This after suffering an uncharacteristically heavy 3-0 defeat at home in the first leg of the tie. Their hopes of winning a second FA Cup with Klopp were snuffed by old rivals Manchester United in the quarterfinals of the domestic competition.

Following this downward spiral for the Reds, which has dampened Klopp’s farewell, heads have turned towards the German manager, with the question being whether he should have kept his cards closer to his chest and made his decision public later on in the season.

In hindsight and with all that has transpired since he went public with his departure plans, it is easy to suggest keeping quiet would have been the better option.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool clashes with Jurgen Klopp

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool clashes with Jurgen Klopp at London Stadium. 27 April 27 2024. (Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Selfless reasons

However, as Klopp alluded to in his statement, it was about being honest with everyone that makes up the Liverpool family. The longer he held onto the news, or let slip to just the hierarchy of the club, the higher the probability that rumours would have swirled and created a media circus around his decision to leave.

Even in the event that he had waited until closer to the end of the season, there are no guarantees that Liverpool would not be where they find themselves. Klopp said in his statement that he hoped that his team could sweep up every trophy they were still contesting for at the time.

“Let’s now really go for it. The outside world wants to use this decision, laugh about it, wants to disturb us,” the 56-year-old stated.

“We are Liverpool. We went through harder things together. And you went through harder things before me. Let’s make a strength of it. That would be really cool,” Klopp added.

Certainly, these words paint a picture of someone who was convinced that he was doing the right thing. The honourable thing. After all, life is just a collection of decisions that either work out for the best or the opposite.

As such, despite the bitter disappointment that the German will be currently digesting — there is likely no regret from his side about how he went about announcing his departure. His intentions were pure enough and no one could have predicted that the Reds’ dream season would be extinguished so violently.

Klopp felt he needed to reveal his decision so that his employers and members of his technical staff could plan for their future. The club has already done that, recruiting Feyenoord manager Arne Slot as Klopp’s successor from next season onwards.

Of course, now that things have fallen apart and there are even glimpses of insubordination, it’s easy to say he should have done it differently. Nevertheless, what’s done is done and Klopp will walk away knowing that during his nine years at the club, he always tried to put Liverpool first. DM

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