Don’t blame Nunez, Konate or Salah: Liverpool ‘always likely’ to collapse after stupid Klopp ‘mistake’

Editor F365
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson
Jurgen Klopp was silly to copy Sir Alex Ferguson

Jurgen Klopp copying Sir Alex Ferguson was ‘always likely’ to cause a Liverpool collapse – except when it didn’t. Arne Slot is throwing his weight around.

 

Father figure
You know the drill. Friday lunchtime. Peak time for online traffic. Huge midweek of Premier League football with some stunning results. Biggest story of the day? Sun website:

Man Utd legend Ryan Giggs to become dad for third time aged 50 with lingerie model girlfriend, 36

Of course. It is not revealed whether that makes him feel as hard as a totem pole.

 

Jur gonna regret this
There are few things national tabloid football writers who have been around for decades love more than writing about Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. That was when the sport was good – and said writers were at the height of their relevance and authority – and so any chance of relating a subject back to the era of your Roy Keanes, Gary Nevilles and Paul Scholeseses is generally snapped up gleefully.

So when discussing Jurgen Klopp’s decision to announce his Liverpool resignation early in 2024, the only sensible thing to do is remember Ferguson’s decision to announce his Manchester United departure early in 2001.

Except there is a slight difference beyond those 23 years: Klopp revealed that news publicly in the January, while Ferguson decided in the May – after winning the title – to step down upon the expiration of his contract at the end of the following season, before making a U-turn and choosing to stay around Christmas.

The two things are not particularly comparable – again, unless you were a tabloid football writer at the time of the Ferguson situation.

And that is where Dave Kidd of The Sun comes in to regale us with the story of those tumultuous days, while awkwardly trying to link it to Klopp and Liverpool.

READ MOREFive players Liverpool should build around in the post-Jurgen Klopp era/Five players Liverpool should discard or sell for the post-Jurgen Klopp era

‘As the taunts of gloating Everton fans rang in his ears on Wednesday night – ‘you lost the league at Goodison Park!’ – Klopp may well have reflected on the wisdom of his announcement,’ he writes.

It feels rather more likely that Klopp reflected on the wisdom of spending an awful lot of money on Ibrahima Konate, Dominik Szoboszlai and Darwin Nunez – he definitely reflected on the wisdom of spending an awful lot of money on Nunez – while not cashing in on Mo Salah, but let’s pretend he had the timing of that late January announcement in mind three months later.

When Klopp revealed that he was quitting Anfield, Liverpool were top of the Premier League, having lost only a single domestic match all season – and that a controversial VAR-infested affair at Tottenham.

Since then, the Reds have been beaten five times in all – with their hopes of a farewell quadruple scuppered by shock defeats against Manchester United in the FA Cup, Atalanta in the Europa League, along with struggling Crystal Palace and Everton in the Premier League.

Absolutely fair. They were top. And aside from one week in March after drawing with Manchester City, they remained as such until April 5. They won their first game after the Klopp news 5-2, and their second 4-1.

In fact, they won ten of the 12 games which followed the manager’s public statement, the two exceptions being that draw against a very good Manchester City side, and a defeat away at a very good Arsenal side. They beat neither earlier in the season before Klopp’s revelation apparently caused this disintegration.

In that time, they won the League Cup final and advanced in both the FA Cup and Europa League. It was not until the quarter-final of the former competition and a 4-3 defeat to Manchester United that the wheels started to come off. And that was just over seven weeks and really a lot of fixtures after Klopp announced his resignation.

It doesn’t feel like that decision prompted a collapse.

Kidd does at least acknowledge that ‘Klopp’s hand may well have been forced in the timing of his statement,’ considering Liverpool could not hope to keep the news private while simultaneously conducting a necessary search for his replacement.

But if it ‘was always likely to play on the minds of his squad,’ how did they continue to compete admirably for four different trophies for almost two months immediately thereafter? Why did a revelation in late January not ‘play on the minds of his squad’ until mid-March, a dozen games later?

‘The timing of his exit announcement has not helped, as Ferguson would doubtless recognise,’ Kidd concludes of a season in which Liverpool are likely to finish third with a trophy when no-one predicted any sort of title challenge to materialise in a transitional campaign.

Nunez is not a laughably bad finisher at times because of the timing of Klopp’s exit announcement. Konate is not woefully inconsistent because of the timing of Klopp’s exit announcement. Salah has not become incredibly profligate after the mid-season interruptions of AFCON and injury because of the timing of Klopp’s exit announcement. Liverpool have not spent seemingly the entire season trying to salvage points from losing situations because of the timing of Klopp’s exit announcement.

There are far bigger factors at play, but sadly they cannot be related back to Ferguson and the early 2000s.

It’s just strange to see Kidd speak so definitively about this apparent Klopp mistake so soon after a Carabao Cup final in which he wrote about how Liverpool ‘completed the first leg of a potential quadruple,’ with their season approaching ‘a silvery conclusion’ as the Klopp ‘farewell tour gathered its first piece of silverware’.

Did the season-derailing mistake just not count then? Because it certainly sounds like someone expected plenty more to follow despite Klopp’s exit being ‘always likely to play on the minds of his squad’.

 

Slot drop
‘Arne Slot confirms he wants to become Liverpool manager and makes Feyenoord demand’ – Daily Mirror website.

It seems like a curious thing to do, to make any ‘demand’ of the team you are contracted to when trying to engineer a situation whereby they let you leave. Should probably stay on their good side really, try and keep things at least amicable.

But no, in comes big time Arne Slot making ‘demands’ of Feyenoord like this: “Feyenoord and Liverpool are in talks to negotiate, I’m waiting to see what will come out of it. I am confident, waiting for the clubs to reach an agreement.”

Sickening.

 

Enzo the world
This from The Sun website

‘Chelsea receive huge blow to European qualification hopes as £106m midfielder Enzo Fernandez OUT for rest of season’

…is great. How will Chelsea cope with the foundation-testing ‘blow’ of Fernandez being OUT for six games? Can they manage without a player whose last match was a 5-0 thrashing, and whose Premier League record in 2024 is four wins, five draws and three losses?

 

Plane English
Fair play to The Sun website because this kicker…

CAPTAIN, LEADER… LEG ROOM

…on perennial man of the people John Terry being just the most likeable, relatable bloke ever when discussing how he and the rest of the Chelsea first team refused to fly economy under Andre Villas-Boas, is absolutely wonderful work.