Jurgen Klopp is having a bad season, directly after a brilliant one.
A miniscule but outspoken portion of Liverpool fans are already prepared with knives out, demanding that Klopp leave the club — the same club he reinvented, restructured and reenergised when he came in six years ago — imminently.
But how can we forget his accomplishments so quickly?
Klopp made Liverpool champions of Europe — and he also won them the Premier League trophy after decades of it shimmering out of reach.
Most fans are standing firmly behind the manager. Many have taken to Twitter to say that anyone who has said “Klopp out” this season has never been to Anfield. Others have demanded perspective. Some even took it upon themselves to hang a sign on the gates of Anfield: “Jurgen Klopp YNWA.”
And really, it’s a reminder: Klopp embodies the Liverpool slogan. He has never let a player walk alone. And it's time to make sure he never has to, either.
It’s not that Liverpool’s history pre-Klopp doesn’t run deep — or that the club hasn’t always held a special place in football. Liverpool experienced plenty of ups and downs without Klopp at the helm. But if we want to be short-sighted about it, then we can say that right now, Liverpool are one of the biggest clubs on the planet.
Just over the past couple of years, we’ve seen once-great teams teeter towards the relegation zone. We’ve seen teams fail to find their identity season after season. We’ve seen teams struggle under the weight of one star player.
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But Liverpool have been a success story.
Sure, it may feel catastrophic to watch a team that was so firmly on top of the world start to tumble off the edge into the abyss. That’s what three massive losses in a row in the league can feel like sometimes.
But a few bad games — or even a relatively bad season — can’t wipe out Klopp’s victories with Liverpool.
He didn’t win the most competitive league in the world by fluke. Blood, sweat and tears went into it.
If you ever search up the German manager’s name after Liverpool lose a game, notice the pictures. Klopp always has a sympathetic arm thrown around one of his players, supporting them in their low points and celebrating with them in their high points.
This is the same manager who, a short three years ago, got booked for sprinting onto the pitch and jumping into the arms of goalkeeper Alisson Becker to celebrate a Merseyside win against Everton.
Who can forget the pure joy and passion in that one beautiful, gleeful moment?
Klopp is YNWA personified.
It’s hard to come by managers who don’t treat their teams like a nuisance these days. It seems that kindness has become massively overrated in the locker rooms.
We hear tales of rifts between managers and players. Egos battling. Wars erupting just beyond the tunnel.
Two years ago, Maurizio Sarri refused to speak in English in a post-game press conference because he was angry and wanted to send his Chelsea players a “clear message” in Italian.
And who can forget Cesc Febregas throwing a pizza at Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United back in 2004?
Some might say that Liverpool have become comfortable — too content — under Klopp’s gentle guidance. Maybe that’s true. Maybe Klopp is too protective of his players. Maybe he is too hesitant to point fingers in his own backyard. Recent digs in the media have suggested that Klopp makes too many excuses (the weather, the schedule, the media itself…) and absolves his team of blame.
Maybe Klopp is too close to the team to see the bigger picture. Maybe that’s when a manager has to walk away. Let someone else come in and hit the restart button.
But on the flip side, what if Klopp is right? What if external factors, out of the team’s control, are really behind their recent free fall down the table? Injuries, defensive vulnerabilities, illnesses and an unprecedented environment brought on by the pandemic. There’s a lot to reckon with. Every team has been hit, sure. But each in a different way. Every manager has had to make different adjustments.
If Klopp really does leave, what would come next?
It’s hard to tell how the team would react to a new manager. After getting used to the boss’ style of doing things for more than half a decade, there’s no way that Liverpool will hit the ground running under new management. It will take time. They might have to cycle through a few managers before they find one that will fit in as well as Klopp did. And it might take that new manager another six or so years to get them in league-winning form.
Let’s face it: Klopp is integral to Liverpool’s identity today. Getting rid of the boss after one of the biggest trophy wins in the club’s recent history will damage morale and introduce instability to a team, that is already dealing with a lot of variables, from losing players to nasty injuries to learning to adjust to new signings to returning to play after recovering from Covid-19.
No manager is forever. If Klopp’s chapter has to end soon, the team will have to cope. But we think there’s a few more pages that he deserves tor write before he closes the book on his time with the Reds for good.