Is Jurgen Klopp better than Fergie if Liverpool win the Premier League title post-Salah?

Will Ford
Jurgen Klopp Sir Alex Ferguson Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah leaving Liverpool will be a huge test for Jurgen Klopp.

Yes, 13 titles. But, Manchester City. Jurgen Klopp winning the Premier League for Liverpool without Mohamed Salah would at least cancel out a key argument for those claiming Sir Alex Ferguson’s superiority.

Reports of Saudi interest in Mohamed Salah aren’t going away. £150m wasn’t enough in the summer, but surely would be at the end of the season, when he will have just a year remaining on his current deal at the age of 32.

Liverpool would be mad to turn down such an offer and by all accounts the Egyptian is keen on a move to Al-Ittihad, or frankly whichever moneybags Saudi club offers him riches beyond his wildest dreams.

The Big Question: How do you replace Mohamed Salah? The Short Answer: You don’t. Unless Jurgen Klopp literally hijacks Real Madrid’s move for Kylian Mbappe, seizing the private jet in transit and flying it to John Lennon Airport, any replacement will be inferior. Even Mbappe would have his work cut out to be as effective.

He’s been Liverpool’s top scorer in all six seasons he’s been at the club, and only Kevin De Bruyne (76) has more than Selfish Salah’s 63 Premier League assists in that time. Without him they would have won nothing.

Even if Liverpool were willing to cede the massive Saudi payday for an extra year of Salah, he will be outlived on Merseyside by Klopp, whose current contract expires in 2026. There will be at least one, maybe two years (perhaps three or four if he agrees an extension) of Klopp in charge of a Salah-less Liverpool side, during which time we can finally put to bed the age-old debate over who is the better manager – him or Sir Alex Ferguson.

A short discussion as things stand, if indeed anyone is actually having it, and fair play to those making the case for Klopp who have been able to triumph over opposition shouting ’13 TITLES’ repeatedly in their face. But while the debate will likely remain one-sided because of those gongs, a Premier League win post-Salah for Liverpool would at the very least cancel out one significant argument for Fergie’s superiority, and could – for those not entirely blinded by silverware – tip the balance in Klopp’s favour.

The key argument – barring the sheer number of titles – that currently keeps Fergie on a pedestal was his ability to revamp his team and go again. Klopp is currently in that process at Liverpool, with £160m spent on an all-new midfield in the summer and a forward signed in four of the six previous transfer windows. But Salah’s exit will be the true test of the German’s ability to rebuild.

Salah Elliott Liverpool
Mohamed Salah looks to be on his way to Saudi Arabia in the summer.

Liverpool are currently keeping pace with Manchester City in the Premier League, with Klopp proving himself to be something of a master when it comes to limiting the bedding-in time of his many new arrivals, but Salah continues to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

The 13 titles to two will remain a troublesome gulf to swerve for the brave Klopp-istas, but we’ll get Dave Tickner – who’s successfully proven that Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have in fact scored precisely zero international goals – on the case at some point to explain why most of those 13 don’t really count. They won it in 1996/97 with 75 points, FFS. How lucky did Ferguson get with the Class of ’92? etc. etc.

He also didn’t have a state-backed Pep Guardiola to contend with. Sure, there were the Arsenal Invincibles and the Russian oligarch at Chelsea caused some problems, but no team came close to the level of Manchester City over the last six seasons. The points tallies Liverpool racked up in losing battles for the Premier League with City in 2018/19 (97) and 2021/22 (92) would have been enough to beat Manchester United in all 13 seasons they won the title under Sir Alex.

Just as rival fans will presumably call for asterisks for title wins for Liverpool, or whomever else, while Manchester City climb the divisions back to the Premier League in the coming seasons, any title win with Guardiola’s City as contenders should count for far more than any of the 13 walks in the park for United under Sir Alex.

Flippancy aside, Klopp’s stock as a Premier League great will rise significantly if he beats Manchester City to the Premier League without Mohamed Salah. He will have rebuilt his team as Sir Alex did, before triumphing over a juggernaut the likes of which the GOAT title-winner never faced. There should at least be a debate.