Is it a curse? Is it a psychological thing? Jurgen Klopp’s stints at his jobs so far follow the same motif. Six amazing years and then a seventh one that resembles a parachuteless free fall. You guessed it. This is his seventh season at Liverpool and saying that the team is underperforming is a serious understatement. The possibility of the German manager leaving the club is growing and there are already rumours about Liverpool’s next manager.
Let’s be honest. If Klopp didn’t have that rich history with the club, he would have probably been fired already. Liverpool are out of both domestic cups, they are 19 points behind Arsenal in the Premier League, and the Champions League seemed like the only saving grace.
Fifteen minutes into the first leg against Real Madrid, at Anfield, everything looked brilliant. Liverpool were up 2-0 and there was hope that the season might be saved this way. But when Istvan Kovacs whistled for the match to end, Liverpool fans and players were hanging their heads, as the European Champions won 5-2 to all but clinch qualification to the Champions League quarter-finals.
If Klopp was any other manager, he would have likely been sacked before even leaving the stadium. But his previous six seasons at the club give him some more slack. The German was the manager that led Liverpool back to a Premier League title, after two decades, added a Champions League to the club’s trophy case, plus one FA Cup, one League Cup, one Community Shield, one UEFA Super Cup, and one FIFA World Cup.
They often say that in every marriage the seventh year is the most crucial. This is the case with Jurgen Klopp and his teams. His seventh season at Mainz was a disaster and ultimately his last at the club. His seventh season at Borussia Dortmund was also as bitter as it gets. After two league titles and a Champions League Final appearance, his team was on the verge of relegation. He left the club. He will likely follow the same path this time.
Things are hard at Liverpool right now. The team struggles. Every now and then there is one good (even great) performance, hinting that there is something there. Something to remind fans of last season. But for every step forward, there are two backward ones.
The board seems, however, willing to let Klopp finish the season before making any major changes. This is evident when taking a look at the betting odds, where the German is the sixth most likely among Premier League managers to be sacked before the season’s end. But there are already discussions with other managers to get the job when the time arrives.
Immediately after the defeat to Real Madrid, the rumours of the board starting talks with Julian Nagelsmann hit the news. The 35-year-old is standing on thin ice and it seems like Bayern will be looking for a new manager when the season ends. He is the favourite to replace his compatriot at Liverpool and he looks positive to taking over.
Of course, he is not the only candidate. Pep Guardiola is the most decorated football manager in the world since the turn of the century and Liverpool are looking for their own Pep. And he is already on the club’s payroll. Pepijn “Pep” Lijnders got hired by Liverpool in 2014, as Brendan Rodgers’s assistant. When Klopp replaced the Northern Irish in 2015, the Dutchman kept his assistant position, which he has kept for nine seasons, with a small break in 2018, when he managed NEC Nijmegen but failed to gain promotion to the Dutch Eredivisie.
As for other possible suitors, bookmakers include the likes of Thomas Tuchel, Ange Postecoglou, and Liverpool legends Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso among the favourites.
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