Quietly, oh so quietly, the talk of Jurgen Klopp’s contract, his time at the club and “what next?” had crept into the conversation about Liverpool Football Club. In reality, this talk was premature, but such is life at a successful football club, that the topic of concern will always become more tenuous the less there is to worry about. And whilst we admit that the previous talk of his successor or contract was too soon, it was a delight to open Twitter to hear that Jurgen Klopp had signed a two-year extension to his deal, keeping him at the club until 2024 at least.
For some, today will have been a hard day. In Britain, there’s been a general election and, regardless of your point of view, things will change. That level of change is, naturally, uncertain. As uncertain as the future always is. But one thing that is certain is, as Friday morning talk of Takumi Minamino and new contacts turns into afternoon chat about the Watford game, that stability and excitement will be sticking around at Liverpool for a little longer. And that will have lifted all hearts of our support in Liverpool, Britain and around the world. But the supporters of other clubs will have taken this news a slightly different way. Because the Liverpool that are hated are the same Liverpool that aren’t going away, and that will be thanks to Klopp himself.
Rather interestingly, some pundits have spoken in recent weeks about how they felt Brendan Rodgers had received a raw deal when he was sacked by Liverpool back in 2015. This type of talk has come off the back of a great start to the season with his new club Leicester City, and some straightforward but impressive seasons with Celtic. Rodgers, who gave us a wonderful 18 months and a torrid 18 months, may well feel the same. A good manager will always feel hard done by if they are sacked. But as his replacement has shown, the Liverpool gig is made for some people, and not for others. Rodgers was sacked at the right time, and Klopp was hired at the right time, and that, like his new contract today, is something FSG deserve huge credit for.
As businessmen, holding on to the asset that is integral to the success of their business will have been FSG’s primary concern. The importance of Klopp to everything that happens at the club can’t be underplayed. He even said himself today that players and agents were beginning to ask how long the manager himself would be sticking around. And that tells us two things – one: that the club were well aware of the effect this contract news would have on the club, and two: that conversations are going on with potential targets right now. And that does show how Liverpool’s approach has changed. And that change has come from FSG, Jurgen Klopp and the rest of the team.
The passion of this manager and his ability to take a set-back with a pinch of salt are the perfect combination for Liverpool. The man cares like a supporter, but has clarity of vision like a manager and coach. Injuries, decisions and cup final loses have all gone against Liverpool during his tenure, but instead of letting those derail the project at hand, he’s been able to step back and do what many others can’t: shrug, and look for the answer to the question “so, what next?”. We’ve been set back in Europe, the League and more, but Klopp’s cool head and eye for leadership have pushed the players on to new heights and taught them how to tackle adversity. That approach has led our team to the top of the league at Christmas (by the time that comes around) and to being considered the best team in Europe, and maybe soon the World.
The timing of this new contract announcement his vital. Not only for him and the club but for the supporters too. Liverpool is, in many ways, a predictable fan-base. As a largely political fanbase that considers itself independent to the rest of the country, the election result didn’t go the way many would have wanted. Many of those at the ground on Saturday would feel deflated and saddened. And that’s before you take the usual 12.30 pm KO against a smaller, poorer side into account. The announcement of the new contract coming almost a day before the Watford game kicks off give the attending crowd a new lift and, for a few hours at least, a new sense of verve, of voice and of spark. Maybe that’s the true effect that Jurgen Klopp has had, summed up in a neat sentence: he’s given the club, the support and the players their verve back, their voice back and their spark back. I for one can’t wait for 5 more years of that. Up the Reds.