On a wall on route to the Anfield tunnel is a plaque almost as famous as the club it represents. Leaving the Liverpool changing room, the players walk down a flight of stairs directly underneath the plaque which instantly became a symbol of the club on the day it was hung there. Reading “This is Anfield – Liverpool Football Club”, it has become a ritual for Liverpool players and fans of the club to touch it as they walk down those few steps. As Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers was one of those who has touched that plaque more than once but in recent months it has been a different set of writing on the wall that has had Rodgers worried. He knew that he was in danger of being sacked and probably believed he had more time but after a dismal start to this season, Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Everton would turn out to be his last in charge of Liverpool.
In the end the result at Goodison mattered little as the club’s owners had already made up their minds. Rodgers was informed shortly after the match by managing director, Ian Ayre. Whilst expected, the news will still have hurt as Rodgers strongly believed that he had what it took to turn Liverpool around. But for Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s principle owners enough was enough and a change needed to be made. They had grown tired of Rodgers excuses of why despite repeatedly spending vast amounts in the transfer market, he had little to show for it. In three years, Rodgers has delivered nothing – no cups, no European success and certainly no title. The latter is what FSG wanted the most having already tasted success on several occasions with their baseball team, Boston Red Sox. But in the footballing world, their sizable investment under Rodgers failed to bear any fruits. One season of nearly clinching the title does not quite count and for Rodgers the writing was starting to be etched on the wall as early as last Christmas.
Whilst former AC Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has been linked heavily with the job along with current Ajax boss Frank De Boer, there is only one man who Liverpool should be turning to in their time of need. Jurgen Klopp is that man and if the FSG has any sense they will appoint him quickly. This is the perfect time for a change with the international break now upon us, it will give Klopp longer than usual to settle in and start to formulate the clubs revival. The former Borussia Dortmund boss has been out of work since this summer after calling time on his spell with the former Bundesliga champions. At his exit press conference, emotions were running high with a Dortmund board inconsolable about losing their prodigal son. It was Klopp’s decision to leave, stating that he could no longer offer them everything he had. Dortmund’s loss could well be Liverpool’s gain as they close in on their preferred candidate.
But why Klopp? Critics will argue that the appointment of a more highly experienced manager like Ancelotti would make more sense, and give greater stability to the club than they had under Rodgers. Ancelotti has been there and done that during a glittering 20 year managerial career and any club would be fortunate to have him. But Liverpool are looking for something different, someone with charisma and charm that can be a driving force on the pitch as much as off it. Klopp fits what they need. Anyone who has ever met the guy has loved him and fallen head over heals for his smooth talking German charm. His inviting smile and friendly demure make him seem highly approachable, almost to the point that you could believe that he would be quite happy to have a pint with you and talk for hours about the beautiful game. But underneath all of this is a superb footballing brain, one that sees beyond what is in front of it and is already planning the next five moves. There are only a few coaches like this in the game today – Guardiola and Mourinho being the best examples so for Liverpool to secure one would be a massive coup.
Whilst he may not have the years of managerial experience across multiple countries as Ancelotti has, Klopp has shown in the teams he has managed that he can build teams not only for now but for the future. He focuses heavily on youth players both through transfers and promotion from the youth team and building a squad capable of challenging for years to come. This is exactly what Liverpool needs at this junction, a manager who will take average players and make them into great ones and build a side that can challenge on all fronts going forward. Klopp has been open in his admiration for the club in the past speaking about its rich history and unfilled potential. He might be just what Liverpool need now as they look to reclaim the glory years of yesteryear. Time will tell if the German can do just that and give the fans another piece of history to hold on to.