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Exclusive - Owen and McManaman speak to Sunday World

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
We caught up with McManaman and Owen while they were on BT Sport duty
We caught up with McManaman and Owen while they were on BT Sport duty

LIVERPOOL legends Michael Owen and Steve McManaman believe Jurgen Klopp’s honeymoon period as Reds manager has come to an end – and warn he will soon be under pressure to deliver success.

While Owen and McManaman are convinced that Liverpool have the right man in charge as they look to challenge for top honours next season, both suggest Klopp’s time for excuses will run out once he has had a summer transfer window to establish his own team.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World,the BT Sport pundits have given their verdict on Klopp’s reign to date, with Owen stressing the promise he has shown so far will not be enough to keep the Anfield pilgrims content for long.

“Klopp has done okay in his first few months at Liverpool, but this club expects more than losing a cup final and a top-half finish in the Premier League,” begins Owen, who sits eighth in the list of all-time great Liverpool goal scorers.

“This season is pretty much done, apart from the Europa League quarter-finals against Borussia Dortmund it is all about building for next season, when the manager needs to start delivering.

“Top four and trophies are what Liverpool should be all about and Klopp doesn’t need me to tell him that.

“In the end, he will probably be judged on the quality of the players he brings in and he needs to make sure he is in charge of recruitment.

“After all the talk over the transfer committee and the debate over who signs players for Liverpool, Klopp needs to have a hands-on say in the players coming into the club.

“He has to be in control of who comes in and I’m sure he will be. This guy doesn’t strike me as a manager who would accept other people making decisions for him.”

McManaman is equally positive about the impact Klopp has made since he succeeded Brendan Rodgers yet he warns the German tactician needs to put the club back into trophy-winning contention next season.

“Liverpool are steeped in the history of the European Cup and that is the competition they have to be in every season, without fail,” states McManaman.

“You might say Klopp will have a great chance to deliver that next season with Chelsea, Manchester City, and maybe even Manchester United and Arsenal all changing their managers, but we just can’t predict what will happen.

“There will be plenty of uncertainty around a lot of clubs, but Chelsea and Man City will spend big again. Even Everton could be a team to watch with their new investor.

“If Liverpool finish strongly, Klopp gets a chance to bring in his new signings and if those players click quickly at the start of next season, then there will be some real optimism moving forward.”

McManaman claims Liverpool are the envy of their Premier League rivals after snaring Klopp ahead of a raft of managerial changes at the top English clubs, with the coach in charge at Anfield getting a head start in his rebuilding project. Proven

“I have spoken to a lot of ex-players and they would have all liked to see Klopp at their clubs,” he continues. “Arsenal, Chelsea and even Man United, they would have all wanted Klopp.

“There are not too many managers out there that have a proven record at the highest level and even fewer available to hire. “So Liverpool did well to nip in there and give him a tempting offer that meant he didn’t go to any of their Premier League rivals.

“That said, all the nice things people have said about Klopp in his first few months at Liverpool won’t count for a whole lot if they start next season slowly. He needs to deliver from the first game next August, no excuses.”

Owen suspects Klopp may need “two or three” transfer windows to put his stamp on Liverpool, but the modern game rarely affords the luxury of that much time to managers.

What will not be acceptable is the sight of Liverpool sitting in their current league position of ninth and a massive 22 points behind the leaders this time next year.

Popularity ratings can crash as quickly as they rise in the modern game and Klopp will know that his moment of destiny at Liverpool is fast approaching.

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