For Liverpool fans, the news that Jürgen Klopp will step down from his post at the end of the 2023-2024 season came as a devastating blow. The German arrived at Anfield at a time when the club was struggling on both the domestic and international stage, but worked to turn things around to the point that the Reds became the best club on the planet for a time.
He was the manager who finally brought the Premier League trophy to Anfield after three decades of near misses, whilst also adding a sixth European Cup and other trophies beside. Little wonder, then, that the city of Liverpool seemed to be in a state of shock after the announcement.
1 – Jürgen Klopp has the highest win rate of any manager in Liverpool's history in all competitions (60.7%, 50+ games), while he is the only Liverpool manager to win each of the top-flight, European Cup/Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup with the Reds. Boss. pic.twitter.com/gddqUpEvTM
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 26, 2024
As well as being full of praise for Jürgen Klopp and keen to look back on his achievements with the club, supporters naturally started asking questions about who his successor might be. When Alex Ferguson left Manchester United, he did so having chosen his successor in David Moyes but when the club was in a state off the pitch.
That is not something that the German has done, working hard to ensure that the Reds are in the best possible position for someone knew to come in and hit the ground running, with a hungry young squad filled with talent that will be capable of taking on the tactical instructions of anyone. The question is, who?
An Overview of Jürgen Klopp’s Time at Liverpool
Before we look too closely at who it is that is likely to take over from Jürgen Klopp when he leaves in the summer, it is only right to have a quick look back at the manager’s time at the club. He arrived in the October of 2015, taking over from Brendan Rodgers after things had seemed to spiral out of control for the Northern Irishman.
There was undoubtedly a hangover from the Hicks and Gillett era of the club, with the German having to not only sort out the playing squad but also convince supporters that we needed to turn from ‘doubters to believers’. That happened pretty quickly, with Liverpool making two finals at the end of his first season.
Jürgen Klopp, in 2015 you told us you’d turn Liverpool supporters from doubters to believers.
I promise, you did that and so much more.
— – (@AnfieldRd96) January 26, 2024
That was a sign of things to come, with the following campaign ending with a top four finish and the one after that seeing Liverpool make it all the way to the final of the Champions League, losing to Real Madrid in the final in Kyiv.
Rather than allowing it to devastate the team, however, the manager picked them back up and got them to go again, missing out on the title to Manchester City by a single point but overcoming a 3-0 first-leg loss to Barcelona in the Champions League in order to make the final once again. We won 2-0 against Tottenham Hotspur seeing the sixth European Cup added to the trophy cabinet and the managers first piece of silverware.
Jürgen Klopp took over Liverpool when they had a single top 5 finish in 6 seasons. They were 10th in the league and were in the midst of an 8-year run without playing in the Champions League knockout stages. In his 8 full seasons, they were always top 5 and reached 3 UCL finals!
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) January 26, 2024
In the Premier League, the manager and players used the disappointment of missing out on the title to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City as the motivation needed to go again, wracking up 99 points and bringing the Premier League to Anfield for the first time under its new look, all whilst becoming the best team in both Europe and the entire world.
Two seasons later and we came close to competing football, winning both the FA Cup and League Cup whilst again losing out on the title by a point and being beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League. At the time he announced he would stand down, we are top of the league, in the League Cup final, likely to make the fifth round of the FA Cup and are in the last 16 of the Europa League.
The Runners & Riders
It isn’t an outrageous suggestion to say that Jürgen’s decision to leave Liverpool means that there are some big football boots to fill in the Anfield hot seat.
The question that everyone will be asking in the coming days is who is likely to take over from the German and lead the Reds into a future that won’t include him. It is not an easy question to answer, even those experienced in football betting tips are finding this a tough one to call.
Here is a quick look at some of the immediate favourites:
The first name on everyone’s lips when it was clear that Liverpool would need a new manager is the midfielder who helped the club to win a Champions League and and FA Cup under Rafa Benitez. He is the early front runner for the position, largely thanks to what he has achieved during his first managerial role with Bayern Leverkusen. They currently sit at the top of the Bundesliga and are four points clear of Bayern Munich, having taken them to the semi-finals of the Europa League last season when he had only been in charge for half of the campaign. There is little question that he would be a popular choice with fans.
If he wins the Bundesliga, it is written in the stars that he would succeed at Liverpool, all has to do is ask the man who was last to beat Bayern Munich to a league title…
Oh wait, that man is Jurgen Klopp 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Wpihh27Q86
— 🅘 (@LFCApproved) January 26, 2024
The Spaniard would be given time to implement his way of playing that other managers might not be afforded, largely because he has already won silverware with the club and there is obviously a love for him from many. At 42 and with only one managerial role under his belt, however, there is no question that he is extremely green. Whilst he would be given time, quite how much time he’d get is up for debate should he struggle to implement his tactics at Anfield in a reasonably quick manner. With pretty much the entire backroom staff leaving with Jürgen, he wouldn’t have much in the way of a support network.
Roberto de Zerbi
If there is a managerial vacancy nowadays then there is a very good chance that whoever is in charge at Brighton & Hove Albion is going to be linked with it. That is thanks to the fact that the Seagulls are well-run, with Roberto De Zerbi having been brought in to take over from Graham Potter when he left for Chelsea and doing a very good job there. He took Brighton to sixth place last season, which gave them European football for the first time in the club’s history, whilst his ability to be flexible tactically means that he would appear to be a natural fit to take over from Jürgen Klopp in the Anfield dugout, even if not everything is plain sailing.
Roberto De Zerbi says he understands why Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool but the Premier League is losing one of the best coaches in the world 🌟pic.twitter.com/BSWiOT81T4
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 26, 2024
Whilst he’s unquestionably a good manager, the failure of Graham Potter at Chelsea means that many will wonder whether it is the setup at Brighton that is designed to allow even a half-decent manager to succeed, as opposed to the specific man in the dugout. On top of that, Brighton have struggled with the dual demands of European football and the Premier League this season, which would be the minimum expectation at Liverpool. Is he really the right man for the job, given the fact that he hasn’t quite figured out how to push Brighton in both competitions at the same time? It would be a tough sell for many.
Given the former Liverpool midfielder’s foray into management, it would be naive not to at least mention his name. Though he succeeded with Rangers when he manager in the Scottish Premier League, his abject failure at Aston Villa means that many Reds would be extremely concerned if he was brought in as Jürgen Klopp’s replacement. It wasn’t just that he didn’t do well at Villa, it is that they were playing dreadful football and his successor, Unai Emery, has used pretty much the same squad but turned the Villains into one of the most exciting clubs outside of Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League this season.
Steven Gerrard should be nowhere near anyone’s list for the LFC job and I adore him.
— scouselegacy 💫💖 (@scousenat) January 26, 2024
For some, there is also the fact that he has disappeared off to Saudi Arabia that will leave a sour taste in the mouth. Jordan Henderson’s decision to head off to the Saudi Pro League did not sit too well with the LGBTQ+ fans of Liverpool, so it is unlikely that Gerrard would get a free pass for doing the same thing; albeit Gerrard never set himself up as an ally to the community in the same way that Henderson did. He also recently signed a new deal with Al-Ettifaq, so it would likely be a costly move to get him in, which might prove to be folly when even his most loyal supporter would question his ability to do the job at Anfield.
If you want someone with ties to Liverpool to come in and do a job then maybe poaching the Tottenham Hotspur manager is the way to go. Ange Postecoglou admitted that he was a huge fan of the Reds growing up, whilst the job that he’s done at Spurs is impressive enough to mean that he’ll at least be part of the conversation. He won back-to-back league titles with Celtic, as well as winning the domestic treble there during his final campaign. Of course, both Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard have shown that success north of the border doesn’t necessarily translate to winning in England, but he’s at least shown he knows how to win.
No, I am not in any way worried Ange Postecoglou will leave Spurs to go to Liverpool if he’s approached. pic.twitter.com/Mf3dQNXkNf
— Craig (@craig_pankhurst) January 26, 2024
The problem is that the other thing that he’s shown so far during his time in charge of Spurs is a degree of tactical naivety. Premier League fans watched in horrified fascination as his Tottenham team was reduced to nine men against Chelsea in their fixture earlier this season, yet the manager persisted in having them play an incredibly high line that allowed their London rivals to pick them off at will. That he didn’t make any big tactical changes to defeat Liverpool when the Reds went to nine men in our game against them will also set some alarm bells ringing. He might be the Liverpool manager in the future, but this still seems a little too early.
If the club’s hierarchy wanted to think a little outside the box, the name of Roger Schmidt might well be one that gets discussed. The Benfica manager won the title last season, having also won trophies in three other countries. As Andrew Beasley pointed out in a thread on Twitter, even the stats aren’t too dissimilar between what he got Benfica doing and what Jürgen has managed with Liverpool. The club’s passes per sequence stand at 3.87 compared to 4.06 for the Reds, whilst the final third regains are 6.6 in comparison to Liverpool’s 6.1. They aren’t the only things that matter, of course, but are interesting nevertheless.
Roger Schmidt at Benfica. League title last season, trophies in three other countries.
German, same age as Klopp. Obviously perfect for the impossible job….
Benfica direct speed: 2.00 m/s (LFC 1.95)
Passes per sequence: 3.87 (LFC 4.06)
Final third regains per 90: 6.6 (LFC 6.1)
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) January 26, 2024
Then there’s the fact that he’s already worked with one of the club’s players, having seen 12 league goals and 13 assists scored by Cody Gakpo when the pair were at PSV. He has used both 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 as formations in the past, which would be ones that would get the best out of Liverpool’s current players. Far from a lock, obviously, but certainly a name that will cross the mind’s of the likes of John Henry and Mike Gordon as they begin to think about who should be taking on the impossible job. It is unlikely that he’ll be ready for the cut and thrust of the Premier League, but many might have thought the same about Jürgen himself.
The final name on our list is that of Rúben Amorim, who is the current manager of Sporting Club de Portugal. Having been a midfielder as a player, he spent most of his career at Belenenses and Benfica, winning three league titles as well as numerous other silverware with the latter. When he retired from playing in 2017, he began working as a coach with Casa Pia and worked his way up to managing Braga, having begun life at the club as the manager of Braga B. He won the Taça da Liga in 2020 and in March of that year was appointed as the manager of Sporting at a cost of more than £8 million.
Seeing a lot of people wanting Ruben Amorim as our new manager and although I rate him the grass isn’t always greener
This was Erik ten Hag vs Amorim back in 2021. pic.twitter.com/fxlV8mA4Yl
— Frank🧠🇳🇱 (fan) (@TenHagEra) January 22, 2024
In his first season as Sporting manager he did a Taça da Liga and the Primeira Liga double, earning himself the Primeira Liga’s Manager of the Year award. That saw Sporting end a 19-year wait for the top-flight title, pulling it off at a time when both Benfica and Porto had enjoyed more recent success. He managed all of that whilst operating on a shoe-string budget, which is something that would surely appeal to Fenway Sports Group. His lack of experience in the English game means that he’ll be an outsider for the role at best, but FSG have been known to take the path less travelled in the past and might well do so again this time.