Jürgen Klopp turned mid-table Liverpool into an international top club again, now he is leaving


Klopp is celebrated after winning the Champions League final against Spurs in 2019.Image AP

The German trainer announced his departure on Friday. Klopp, famed and lambasted by some for his very compassionate behavior on the sidelines, says his energy is running out after nine years. “I can imagine it’s a shock to a lot of people,” he says. ‘I love the club, the city, our supporters, this team, I love everything. But I am still convinced that I have to make this decision.’

Jürgen Klopp started in Liverpool in October 2015 after a very successful period at Borussia Dortmund. He found a superpower in decline, a five-time winner of the Champions League who had to play in the Europa League after finishing sixth. Moreover, to the amusement of rival fans, Liverpool had not been champions of England for 25 years.

In his first season, Liverpool finished seventh in the English Premier League, but the club managed to reach the final of the Europa League. In the quarter-final, Klopp eliminated Borussia Dortmund. Liverpool lost the final to Sevilla.

Rock-’n-roll

In the years that followed, Klopp became one of the most important managers in Liverpool’s history. Acquisitions such as Van Dijk, Mané and Salah grew into absolute world top players under his leadership. Klopp’s Liverpool style of play, from the city of The Beatles, was dubbed ‘rock ‘n’ roll football’. The high pressure, the big changes in tempo and fast counters attracted football fans from all over the world.

It was also rewarded with trophies: in 2019, Liverpool won its sixth Champions League. Even more important for the fans was that the club finally became champions of England again in 2020. All bullying from other supporters ended. The fact that Liverpool played the championship match in an empty stadium during the corona pandemic and there was hardly any celebration was a minor blemish.

At its peak, Klopp’s team was perhaps one of the three best football teams in the world. The trainer was just unlucky that one of the other world teams was the English Manchester City, and that coach Pep Guardiola’s team was often slightly better. As a result, Klopp’s national success was limited to one league title, an FA Cup and a League Cup.

Dutch touch

The Dutch were an important part of Klopp’s success. In addition to Van Dijk, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum played in his star team. Cody Gakpo also came to Liverpool last year. Moreover, Klopp has repeatedly praised his right-hand man Pepijn Lijnders as the tactical brain of the team in recent years. The Dutch assistant announced on Friday that he would also leave after this season.

Last season things went wrong at Liverpool. Klopp was said to have exchanged the old stars for new talents too late, according to the criticism. Liverpool finished fifth and has again been forced to play in the Europa League this season.

But with some targeted purchases, especially in midfield, Liverpool is doing excellently in the Premier League again this season. The team is currently even at the top, followed by Manchester City. A second championship, this time in a full stadium, would be the ideal farewell for Klopp.

The post first appeared on www.volkskrant.nl

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