Jurgen, it’s time to say goodbye

Roberto Firmino LFC Tony Evans Liverpool
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On October 8th, 2015 Jurgen Klopp become Liverpool’s manager. He agreed to take over a team that was languishing in mid-table, with the squad desperately in need of reinvention, and a fanbase desperate for real success. He dubbed himself the normal one and talked about Liverpool being a special club. From humble beginnings with a 0-0 draw away to Tottenham, Klopp would build Liverpool into a team feared throughout Europe. With his heavy metal football, built around gegenpressing, his team would take on and conquer the best of the best.

During the season in which he replaced Brendan Rodgers, he would reach his first European final with Liverpool. That Europa League final would end in defeat to Sevilla but the journey to the final would sow the seeds for the return of great European nights at Anfield. In the summer after that final Klopp would add Gini Wijnaldum, Joel Matip, and Sadio Mane to his team as he took the first steps towards reshaping it in his image.

In his first full season in charge, Liverpool returned to the top four and qualified for the Champions League. Following that season Klopp would build further adding Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson who would become key players in the team that was starting to emerge. That season also saw the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold and, for the first time since Steven Gerrard broke into the first team in 1998/99, there was a Liverpool academy graduate who looked likely to become a permanent fixture in the first team.

In his second full season in charge, Liverpool would reach the Champions League final. Unfortunately for Klopp, they would be more heartbreak at the hands of a Spanish club. This time Real Madrid would defeat his team and in doing so Klopp would see the areas that needed further strengthening. That season was more notable for something else though, the arrival of Virgil van Dijk. The rock on which Klopp would build his team, the Dutch defender arrived from Southampton for a fee of £75mil. That fee shocked many at the time but has proven to be an absolute steal.

After that defeat to Madrid in Kyiv Klopp would add further, bringing in Fabinho and Alisson Becker. Now his team was complete. Being a manager very much in favour of a small squad and an even smaller group of trusted players, Klopp now had 13 players that he was comfortable with. The eight signings mentioned, Alexander-Arnold, and four players he inherited from Brendan Rodgers – namely Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Roberto Firmino, and Joe Gomez.

In 2018/19 Liverpool established themselves as Europe’s best side, winning the Champions League while finishing just one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League but here’s where things started to go awry. Normally you would want to strengthen from a position of power because having climbed to the mountain top usually you would want to stay there, and it also becomes easier to convince players to join you when you’ve already had success. Having added players in each summer he had been at the club, key players every single summer, Klopp and the club decided to stand pat.

Now, some will say that this strategy worked as they would go on to win the Premier League title the next year but short-term thinking is a dangerous thing that can collapse an empire before it’s had a chance to properly pillage its conquered lands. In 2019/20 Liverpool began to suffer with more injuries than ever before. And they have failed to claim either of the two major trophies on offer since. Sure, they came close but “close” isn’t good enough for Liverpool Football Club, and it doesn’t matter if you come second by one point or ten because, as Bill Shankly once said, “If you are first, you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.”

It is undeniable that Jurgen Klopp built a great team and won the biggest honours, but unfortunately, all great things come to an end. The time has come for Jurgen Klopp to say goodbye.

He must say goodbye to the players that have given him so much and that he has put so much faith in over the past 7 years. For the first time in his career, he must separate the job as manager and the role as mentor, because things have become stale and drastic changes are needed. He must tell players that it’s time for them to leave.

Klopp is an admitted admirer of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager who sustained a level of brilliance for longer than anybody in the history of English football. Ferguson was the master of reinvention and when he felt things were going stale he would do two things, He would get rid of an influential player and he would make changes to his coaching staff. Klopp must do similar. 

Klopp has always said that he would never force a player to leave a club if they didn’t want to but for the good of Liverpool that is exactly what he must do. Sentimentality has no place in the modern game, and injury-prone players who can no longer run have no place in a Jurgen Klopp team. 

In this most recent press conference Klopp made a point of saying that while he is loyal, he is not too loyal. He suggested that players who had once been good and were now not so good could be moved on. However, Dominic King has since reported that it would be no surprise if James Milner and Roberto Firmino were given contract extensions so it’s hard to know what the truth is as Klopp has a history of not being honest with the press.

But what we do know is that it’s time for Klopp to change tact, it is time for him to cut bait, and it’s time for him to say goodbye to players who are no longer fit for purpose.

One could make the argument that a large portion of his current squad are no longer fit for purpose, including the four players He inherited from Brandon Rodgers.  

Milner and Firmino are out of contract this summer. Milner is now 37 and long past the point of being good enough to play for a team with ambitions to win major honours. In truth, he should have been released in the summer of 2020. Firmino will turn 32 later this year and for the last three seasons has been a highly inconsistent player who has become more and more injury prone as the seasons have gone by. He’s a club legend who was arguably the most important player in Klopp’s system in the early years of the German’s tenure in charge, but his best days are behind him and are not coming back. The best thing Liverpool can do is say goodbye to both.

Henderson turns 33 later this year and while he does have two years remaining on the contract Jurgen Klopp insisted on giving him, which has already proven to be a mistake, the time has come for him to be moved on. Club captain or not Henderson is no longer good enough to play for Liverpool Football Club. One of the most notable things Alex Ferguson did at United was move on Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, and Roy Keane when he felt they were no longer capable of producing at the required level. All had lifted trophies, all had enjoyed distinguished careers at United, all had multiple years left on the contracts but for Ferguson, there was no place for sentimentality and Klopp must take an example from the man he admires. It’s unlikely Henderson would bring much in the way of a transfer fee but removing his sizeable wages would help the club and removing his presence would free minutes for better, younger, players who can actually contribute to the future of the team.

Joe Gomez will turn 26 before the end of this season and should be entering his peak years however the former Charlton defender has had a career racked by injuries. This is year eight for Gomez at Liverpool and those 8 years have brought just 164 appearances. For comparison, Firmino joined at the same time as Gomez and has made 348 appearances. Milner joined that same summer and has 309. The knee injury suffered in the 2020/21 season, a torn patellar tendon, is a particularly horrible injury with no guarantee of full recovery and based on Gomez’s performances this season he does not look like he’s going to get back to being the defender he was pre-injury.

To further emphasise how unfortunate Gomez has been here is the season-by-season minute breakdown of his Liverpool career:

2015/16 –  618 minutes a season ended by a torn ACL.

2016/17 – 270 minutes. A season of recovery during which he also suffered from an Achilles tendon issue.

2017/18 – 2463 minutes. A season that ended early because of ankle surgery.

2018/19 – 1583 minutes. A season disrupted by another ankle surgery after an injury suffered away to Burnley.

2019/20 –  3289 minutes. Gomez finally got through a season without injury. He established himself as Van Dijk’s first-choice partner and was outstanding as Liverpool romped to the title.

But then came the 2020/21 season and that horrific knee injury. He only managed 979 minutes before his season came to an end in early November .

Last season he clocked only 1036 minutes as he worked his way back and while this season he has managed 1330 minutes and, thus far, remained largely injury-free his form has not been of the required standard.

Gomez will undoubtedly have admirers throughout the Premier League and it should not be hard to find a club willing to pay a decent fee for him. It’s not that Gomez is a bad defender, he’s just unlucky. At this point in his career, he should have established himself as the first-choice partner for Van Dijk but that is not going to happen. Ibrahima Konate is younger, bigger, stronger, and frankly just better at this point, so Gomez’s best hope for a starting spot at Liverpool would be to wait out Virgil van Dijk but is that in anyone’s best interests? If Van Dijk plays another four seasons for Liverpool, which is absolutely realistic, Gomez will be 30. Is he willing to waste his whole career as a squad player? Become this generation’s Wes Brown, a talented defender who should have gone on to be a regular first-choice for Premier League team and a regular in the England squad but instead stayed too long at the top club where he was never going to become a regular starter. Is that what Gomez wants his career to be?

It’s not just those that Klopp inherited that he must consider moving on. Joel Matip and Fabinho should be seen as candidates as well. Matip will turn 32 later this year and has only one season after this left on his contract. This is the last chance to get a good fee for the Cameroonian defender. Fabinho’s contract runs until 2025 and he is only 29, but there are already signs of decline and as Bob Paisley said, it’s better to let a player’s legs go on somebody else’s pitch. Neither of them have performed well this season and they are two players who could bring in the money to fund their own successors.

Liverpool have not been quick enough to move players on in the past. When you are a sell-to-buy club, that can only spend what you generate, you have to be more ruthless with players when their contracts are expiring, or it becomes clear they are no longer of the required standard.

Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can, and Gini Wijnaldum were all allowed to stay too long. Moreno, Lallana, Can, Origi, and Wijnaldum all left on free transfers just as Firmino, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain should this summer. For a club that operates on a tight budget, you simply cannot spend £200 million and get nothing back when those players leave the club. When it becomes obvious that those players are A) Not good enough, B) Not reliable enough or C) Not going to extend their contracts, you need to move them on.

This summer is crucial for Liverpool and Klopp needs to get it right. With Manchester United and Arsenal returning to prominence, with Todd Boehly spending money as if it’s going out of fashion, and with the Oil Classico duo of Manchester City and Newcastle United willing to spend whatever it takes to have success, Liverpool are on iffy ground. There is a real risk that Liverpool, particularly if this ownership stays, falls into a rut of mediocrity that sees them competing with Tottenham Hotspur for sixth in the Premier League because the other five become uncatchable. 

Liverpool’s methodology, the blueprint they followed to build Klopp’s first great team, has proven to work when it comes to winning major titles but the problem is that Liverpool moved away from their own ideas. Whether this was at the request of Klopp, only a handful of people will know but the simple truth is they now need to go backwards in order to go forwards. They need to go back to being the smartest, best-run club in the land. They can begin this rebuild in a much stronger position than they began the initial build because the calibre of players at the club now is far superior to the cesspool of dross Klopp inherited, but Klopp needs to commit to it and stop clinging to the past. Say goodbye to the players who can no longer take you forward, rather than have them hold you back.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. I have said for the last few years Klopp keeps the yes men far too long. He hired and retains far to many injury prone players too.
    I certainly don’t see VVD playing for 4 more years as he hasn’t been the same since Pickford hacked him down.

  2. Refresh the squad? Yes;
    Do it without Klopp? No…
    Liverpool have scored 28 points in 18 games this season. 2 years ago they had a run of 18 league games where they only scored 22 (winning 6, losing 8, drawing 4), finished 3 in the league that season. Then last year they ran the league down to the wire.
    I’d rather the club didn’t get in the habit of changing Manager the second things look a little tricky.

  3. I think some players need to be moved on no doubt but surely not the manager. He has earned the right to get us relegated(which he won’t anyways). We trusted him when he hasn’t prooved a thing in the Premier league how much more when he has conquered all, life happens to everyone(even the most perfectly thought out plans could still go south), until Klopp taps out I remain a BELIEVER. This is OUR storm, I won’t let him walk it alone.

  4. Most of what you’ve said is correct. The deadwood hasn’t been moved on, the manager must take some of the blame. Shankly was ruthless, once a player was on the decline, he was shown the door, without a goodbye.

    The midfield, where all the problem are. Keita and Chamberlain should have gone months ago, injury prone, not good enough.
    Elliott and Jones are not the Answer’s in midfield. If you must Elliott, play him in the front three.
    Milner is 37, Henderson these days struggles to play 90 minutes. Thiago is a very poor replacement for wjinaldum. Fabinho has no help, the high line even less. If you were injured under shankly, were were shunned, he wouldn’t talk to the player. He felt you were letting him down. Ruthless, just like Fergie.

    Wjinaldum was our best midfielder, mane was our most consistent attacker. Gone because of FSG.

    The latest news is milner and firmino will get new contracts for next season. No problem keeping experienced older players, if they are still performing every week. Not players who are are always injured. Sums up where we are going. Nowhere fast.

    One thing that you didn’t mention was FSG. Charlatan owners who tried to form the super league.
    And have imposed the tightest financial restraints on klopp that others don’t have.
    FSG are now using the excuse of new investors, yet the investment from red bull capital worth 535 million has gone missing. WHERE’S the 300 million profit that was made from last year.
    FSG can spend 257 at the Boston red sox, but we can’t buy midfielders. FSG have a responsibility to keep Liverpool competitive. An ageing injury prone squad that can’t play klopp system anymore.

    We are now at a crossroads, if money isn’t spent on new players, then klopp will be gone. Champions league is already lost next season. The manager who’s worked miracles with his hands tied, now needs help.

    Look at the premier league table. We are getting left behind. Other American owners are spending.
    Chelsea, Manchester United, arsenal, but not FSG at Liverpool.

    FSG are charlatan owners. One way or Another, for the good of the club, they need removing.

  5. The deadwood hasn’t been moved on, the manager must take some of the blame. Shankly was ruthless, once a player was on the decline, he was shown the door, without a goodbye.

    The midfield, where all the problem are. Keita and Chamberlain should have gone months ago, injury prone, not good enough.
    Elliott and Jones are not the Answer’s in midfield. If you must Elliott, play him in the front three.
    Milner is 37, Henderson these days struggles to play 90 minutes. Thiago is a very poor replacement for wjinaldum. Fabinho has no help, the high line even less. If you were injured under shankly, you were
    shunned, he wouldn’t talk to the player. He felt you were letting him down. Ruthless, just like Fergie.

    Wjinaldum was our best midfielder, mane was our most consistent attacker. Gone because of FSG. Sell to buy don’t like paying bigger wages.

    The latest news is milner and firmino will get new contracts next season. No problem keeping experienced older players, if they are still performing every week. Not players who are are always injured. Sums up where we are going. Nowhere fast.

    you didn’t mention FSG Charlatan owners who tried to form the super league.
    And have imposed the tightest financial restraints on klopp that others don’t have.
    FSG are now using the excuse of new investors, yet the investment from red bull capital worth 535 million has gone missing. WHERE’S the 300 million profit that was made from last year.
    FSG can spend 257 at the Boston red sox, but we can’t buy midfielders. FSG have a responsibility to keep Liverpool competitive. An ageing injury prone squad that can’t play klopp system anymore. A massive rebuild is needed.

    We are now at a crossroads, if money isn’t spent on new players, then klopp will be gone. Champions league is already lost next season. The manager who’s worked miracles with his hands tied, now needs help.

    Look at the premier league table. We are getting left behind. Other American owners are spending.
    Chelsea, Manchester United, arsenal, but not FSG at Liverpool.

    FSG are charlatan owners. One way or Another, for the good of the club, they need removing.

  6. Seriously get a grip, klopp has competed against the richest teams in the world on a shoe string budget compared to them by buying with what we have sold, the man is a genius and a true Liverpool legend who needs backing financially by fsg, you are a melt looking for clicks and I guess it’s working sadly

  7. Give him money to spend or fsg will be sorry klopp has made you good investment money in his time at Liverpool, he does not deserve to be held back anymore. Fsg in klopp l trust if you want me to trust in you give him your backing and your trust and respect with money to spend, before it’s to late

  8. Almost everything you discussed is 100% correct with the exception of VVD who personally I feel has already started declining in his abilities….he has never really recovered from the lengthy Pickford induced injury, and has lost whatever previous pace he had….and why has Mo not been mentioned?

    The ruthless fact is that unless you are owned by an oil state, you HAVE to show no feelings when moving players on at the optimum time BEFORE they enter the last year of their contracts….fact!

  9. Great article. I actually think the first choice CB pairing will soon be Gomez and Konate. I agree that VVD is not the same defender he was pre pickford (the clumsy little sh**). Lets not forget he hasn’t been playing great for a while either. I also think aside from the obvious midfield issues we have, its also up front. Our style of play is guns blazing with full backs bombing forward, which worked when we camped in opponents halves, and smashed goals in left right and centre, but now we aren’t scoring as many, but still have the entire team parked in the opponents half. A simple outball (usually over the head of our much maligned RB – unfairly so in my opinion) and we are caught out and concede goal after goal. That aside from being played through far too easily. We need tough as F ball winning CM x 2 who can pass a bit too. WTH has happened to Fabinho? He was the bes in his position at one time but is sruggling now. I think with a few additions we’ll come back, but probably arent gonna see that until next season. Be more pleasure and pain before then!

  10. Stinks of wool the anfield index. How many contradictory inaccuracies you cram into one article? Give you credit for having a go like.

  11. Our club needs serious overhaul. We need 1 defending midfielder, 1 attacking midfielder and a cover (in squad) for Sallah.
    For me, Elliot is a “greater tomorrow”. Our new signings should be young but exposed.
    We can still turn around our situation to be in Europe next season.

  12. I agree with everything. It is time to regenerate this squad, but it needs to be done swiftly if we are to be in the running for trophies. If we want to stay the club what we all want it to be, FSG need to spend some of the money this club ha generated since 2010. Fsg must speculate to accumulate.

  13. Put 2 or 3 youngsters from the Football Academy will help the squad.. To succeed in football, it needs fitness, swiftness, speed and endurance + a dose of intelligence. (Add a little Luck). Apply this recipe and see the Result. YNWA

  14. Wow, hateful article, man United fan? Being like Alex Ferguson is nothing to be proud of, horrible man. Klopp is legendary, limited by FSG, not his fault. Also hard to take seriously after reading “Brandon Rogers” please

  15. Can’t believe this is actually an article, thunk the man has earned the chance to have a bad season and still be the boss, we’re going to rebuild next year, throwing him away when you don’t get what you want shiws you have no loyalty, you can’t just throw more and more money at it, after all if we did that and not performed he’d be catching heat for that, look at united and changing a manager doesn’t mean you’ll be more successful or even as successful as we are now, we can still pull top players and we’re still able to afford them, if we get rid and not perform losing klopp who has the respect of top players, plays attractive football and buys smart, anyone else would just buy big names for hugs price’s and if the underperform you want rid of him and the player, start here and I guarantee it’ll be down hill.

  16. Klopp is the only reason I get up in the morning
    He’s red through and through and if they lost him then I would never go the game again.
    He is the best thing our club has had sin Shankley

  17. You know nothing about the game keep your mouth shut very narrow minded short memory stevy G to old done like mill give all for club inspire younger at club try manage your house first before you open your mouth kid

  18. Mr. Klopp plays one way no ulterior no plan B there is no sense in bringing skilled players to the club if you don’t use them for the reasons you bought them. Every player must carry his work load but not every player is a farm horse. Some are thoroughbreds aka skilled players.
    He needs a defensive coach that is serious about fixing his wing back situation and wont back down from Mr. Klopp stressing to him that its defenses that win championships not players whom bring in advertising deals. Yes I said it. Frimino is not past being great but misses that umph that in my humble opinion. You sell that ex factor to keep and pay a lazy penalty taker. You see the TAA issues with defending but but can’t fix it. So you let him take all the blame when he’s playing how you want him to in neglecting he’s a defender first. HE’S A DEFENDER FIRST!!!!!

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