| 6.7°C Dublin

klopp crisis Spotlight now falls on Liverpool's owners as they need to keep their prized asset

Boston owners need to take their share of the blame for Liverpool's slide in fortunes

Close

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (left), the club’s co-owner John Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (left), the club’s co-owner John Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (left), the club’s co-owner John Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Life after Jurgen Klopp was not a prospect that Liverpool fans dared to countenance until now, but that galling prospect suddenly seems real.

As the aura Liverpool's team of champions created over the last couple of years was well and truly shattered by Manchester City's 4-1 win at Anfield last Sunday, it felt like ground zero had been reached in their unforeseen demise.

Just two months ago, Klopp was being hailed as a miracle worker after he found a way to lead his side to the top of the Premier League table without any of his first-choice central defenders to pick from - yet that achievement may, inadvertently, have been the origin of his demise.

Close

Mo Salah will have to step up.

Mo Salah will have to step up.

Mo Salah will have to step up.

Across the Atlantic in Boston, Liverpool's owners at the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) believed the genius of Klopp would allow them to avoid any spending in the January transfer window, even with crocked centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip taking up residency in the treatment room.

A victory against Tottenham in mid-December fuelled that improbable fantasy, with Liverpool moving clear at the top of the Premier League table and Klopp's makeshift defence offering up a mirage that was to evaporate in double-quick time.

The humbling at the hands of Pep Guardiola's City at Anfield last weekend saw Liverpool slip to a fourth defeat in a run of 10 league matches that yielded just nine points, sparking a post-mortem.

Well, make that five losses from 11 top-flight fixtures after Saturday's 3-1 reverse at Leicester.

Where has it all gone wrong?

Some are blaming fatigue, others are pointing an accusing finger at the introduction of Thiago Alcantara into their midfield line-up, while rumours persist that the uncertainty over Gini Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah's futures is a reason for shaken unity inside Klopp's dressing room.

Yet the reality must be that the architects of this collapse are in Boston, with the momentum Klopp had worked so hard to build up halted in its tracks as he was blocked from signing the defenders he requested last month.

Only in the final hours of deadline day did Turkish youngster Ozan Kabak arrive in a cut-price loan deal from Schalke, with Ben Davies plucked from obscurity at Preston in the hope that he can step up to shine at Premier League level.

Close

Some have blamed the arrival of Thiago (right).

Some have blamed the arrival of Thiago (right).

Some have blamed the arrival of Thiago (right).

Would Manchester City or Manchester United have recruited a second-tier player if their entire defensive line had been ripped out due to an injury crisis?

Of course not, and the statistics confirm as much. An analysis of transfer spending over Klopp's time at Liverpool confirms his net outlay leaves Liverpool languishing in 14th place in the list of Premier League money guzzlers - behind Fulham, Sheffield United, Brighton and Aston Villa.

Despite that, Klopp has delivered the Champions League title, the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA's World Club Cup and ended the club's enduring wait for Premier League glory.

FSG owe Klopp a debt that should have been repaid with a stellar signing in the transfer window. However, that did not materialise.

Then there is the second part of this story. Amid his professional turmoil, Klopp's personal agony was revealed this week as the death of his mother, Elisabeth, last month was made public, along with the heart-breaking news that he was unable to attend her funeral due to Covid flight restrictions.

Close

Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp are struggling (Michael Regan/PA)

Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp are struggling (Michael Regan/PA)

Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp are struggling (Michael Regan/PA)

These are dark times for Klopp and it's hard to imagine how the leader who deserves to be acclaimed as a Liverpool legend is coping with his predicament.

Now imagine a scenario this summer that sees FSG tell Klopp the financial cupboard is still bare and he has to go into next season with only minor additions to his squad.

If such a chain of events were to transpire, and it's more than possible that it could given FSG's track record for financial prudence, Klopp would be forgiven for concluding that he has taken Liverpool as far as he can with the current owners.

"I was surprised to hear what Jurgen said a few months back that he will leave when his contract ends in 2024. Maybe he will want to leave to manage someone like Bayern Munich," former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp told the Sunday World.

"That always seems to be the calling for a lot of German players and managers, and with Jurgen I sensed frustration last month because he wanted a new player.

Close

Jamie Redknapp.

Jamie Redknapp.

Jamie Redknapp.

Close

Jamie Redkanpp now works as a football pundit (Steve Paston/PA)

Jamie Redkanpp now works as a football pundit (Steve Paston/PA)

Jamie Redkanpp now works as a football pundit (Steve Paston/PA)

"I just look at what's happened to Liverpool this season and it must be hard for Klopp to take.

"He built the club over the last few years into a giant and he had that crowd at Anfield acting as a 12th man, but they have gone this season because of Covid.

"All these little things have conspired against Liverpool. I'm not making excuses for them, I'm being honest. I do wonder what Klopp is thinking about it all."

Yet, Klopp may still dare to believe this great Liverpool team could still save their season in the Champions League.

The RB Leipzig tie has been moved due to the same travel restrictions that stopped him attending his mother's funeral, with Europe's top prize offering Liverpool a chance to reboot.

The Premier League title is gone but European glory would be ample compensation in a season fraught with so many problems.

Even if the Liverpool players have looked tired and bereft of drive in the last couple of months, the prospect of a Champions League final in Istanbul in late May has to reignite their burners.

At least that's what Klopp will be hoping from a relatively small group of players that have given him so much and now have to find a gear that came so easy to them not so long ago.

Liverpool's owners have to prove they have the ambition to match that of a manager who threw in the towel at Borussia Dortmund when the going got tough.

We are not at that point yet for Liverpool, but the warning signs are certainly starting to flash.

He built the club over the last few years into a giant.

PREMIER LEAGUE SPENDING CHART

ANALYSIS of net transfer spending in the Premier League over the last five years carried out by CIES Football Observatory suggests Liverpool are 14th among England's top clubs.

These figures include revenues from sales and purchases, with Liverpool well down the list despite their success over the last couple of seasons.

  • Manchester City: €631m
  • Manchester United: €586
  • Everton: €346
  • Aston Villa: €339
  • Chelsea: €308
  • Arsenal: €299
  • Brighton: €259
  • Tottenham: €250
  • Wolves: €249
  • Fulham: €190
  • West Ham: €171
  • Sheffield United: €134
  • Leicester: €134
  • Liverpool: €129
  • Leeds: €115
  • Crystal Palace: €100
  • Burnley: €82
  • Newcastle: €77
  • West Bromwich Albion: €73
  • Southampton: €50

(Figures relate to net transfer spending since the summer of 2016)

Potential successors for Anfield hotseat

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed he will walk away from Liverpool when his contract expires in the summer of 2024 and has suggested that he may retire from management then.

The prospect of the German leaving Liverpool prior to that cut-off point seemed unlikely until their recent slump in form, but questions must now be raised over his desire to continue in the job unless the club's owners offer him bigger financial backing in the transfer market.

These are the names in the frame to replace Klopp when the moment comes for him to leave Liverpool.

Pep Lijnders (6/4) KLOPP'S impressive assistant at Liverpool has caught the eye when fronting up media duties, and he is highly respected at Anfield. The Dutchman (38) is also Klopp's choice to replace him when the time is right.

Steven Gerrard (5/2) THE romantic choice to take over from Klopp, Anfield legend Gerrard has made a big impression in his first managerial role at Rangers. His dream is to take over as Liverpool manager, but it remains to be seen whether he will be ready for such a big job when Klopp leaves.

Xabi Alonso (11/2) THIS former Liverpool midfielder is a surprise name in the running to replace Klopp, as he has yet to have any experience as a senior head coach.

Julian Nagelsmann (10/1) KLOPP'S touchline rival, 33, for the Champions League round-of-16 tie is rated as the finest young coach in German football and turned down the Real Madrid job two years ago.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World


Top Videos





Privacy