The field of potential Jurgen Klopp replacements as Liverpool manager was unchanged for a few months but a shock sacking has shifted everything around.
These are the 10 favourites to become the next permanent Liverpool manager ranked by best odds available at oddschecker.com. The names themselves are definitely not a reflection of our actual thoughts.
10) Rafael Benitez
At this early stage it is probably worth pointing out that the actual James Milner is 11th in the betting. Benitez reinforced his Liverpool manager credentials by tanking Everton and he remains both popular and visible on Merseyside, having built up an emotional connection with the club over a six-year spell.
But a little bit has changed since he last occupied the Anfield hotseat in 2010 and the Spaniard’s desperate search for another Premier League post is eminently unlikely to take him back to his first.
9) Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool sacked Brendan Rodgers so long ago that when the live Sky Sports studio reaction of tactile pundits Thierry Henry and Jamie Carragher went viral, the innumerable clips were published on Vine. It was a simpler time, when Tancredi Palmeri and Andy Tate shaped the narrative of the entire sport.
The decision to part with Rodgers was made in a haze of transfer committee scepticism and on the back of five 1-1 draws in his last six games; Liverpool managed to score first in each, which is a trait they would not mind rediscovering over seven years later, but the red writing had been scrawled on the wall since an underwhelming 2014/15 season culminated in a 6-1 thrashing at Stoke.
Jurgen Klopp dismissed the idea that Rodgers’ demise was about results when he discussed the situation in October 2019. “For the public, when a manager gets the sack, they think he lost his football brain or something. That is not how it happened,” he said. “Whatever it was I do not know, but it was not his quality as a coach. But of course, expectations and relationships, whatever, between who and who, if that does not work anymore the club has to make a decision.”
The German will hope such a time is not imminent now but Rodgers is unlikely to be at the front of the queue of replacements either way.
8) Graham Potter
In the multiverse of Premier League managerial madness, there are alternative timelines in which each of the Big Six gave Graham Potter his first seat at the top table.
His Arsenal side re-signed Danny Welbeck and are back in the Champions League; his Manchester City team ripped a hole in the space-time continuum by pitting Erling Haaland against xG; his Manchester United outfit re-signed Danny Welbeck and are back in the Champions League; his Tottenham charges are flying high after turning Eric Dier and Emerson Royal into competent wing-backs.
It’s not exactly going to plan at Chelsea thus far, but it does feel as though they simply blinked first in dragging away Potter, who surely featured somewhere on the succession plans of the aforementioned. And probably Newcastle, too. He would have been a fit for Liverpool after a couple more years on the south coast but it is not to be.
7) Diego Simeone
Perhaps the most incompatible choice possible, considering the sheer volume of p*ss the Argentinean boiled by daring to beat Liverpool at Anfield in March 2020.
“I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. They could play proper football. It doesn’t feel right,” moaned Jurgen Klopp. “They’ve celebrated as if they’ve won the tie after the game,” said Andy Robertson after Atletico won the first leg of their last-16 clash, before proceeding to win the tie. “Putting loads of men behind the ball – great players at that – what’s genius about that?” asked Michael Owen.
It was an utterly nonsensical reaction that will sadly preclude Simeone parking a home bus in front of the Kop and creating a media furore every week when he refuses to shake everyone’s hand. Shame.
6) Antonio Conte
Unlike Virgil van Dijk, Conte has never lost at Anfield. But that is roughly where Antonio Conte’s suitably to the Liverpool job begins and ends. The Italian would completely and irreparably break Thiago, turn Nathaniel Phillips into a prospective England captain and tear his hair implants out watching Darwin Nunez.
It would be unadulterated fun and there should not be too much difficulty prising Conte away from his current job, but the two players Liverpool have signed from Juventus this century are Arthur Melo and Christian Poulsen so it just wouldn’t work.
5) Ange Postecoglou
‘Liverpool report: Celtic manager Ange Postecoglu [sic] sensationally tipped to replace Jurgen Klopp,’ reads the FourFourTwo headline from October, with ‘one former Celtic man’ backing the Greek-Australian for a top Premier League job.
Well an ex-Rangers coach once seemed destined for the role before slipping on his stepping stone so you never know.
“I think Postecoglou’s going to be the next Liverpool manager, I really do,” said the mysterious former Hoops player. “At times in this season’s Champions League game against Real Madrid, the European champions, Celtic were unbelievable, so I think Ange Postecoglou is good enough to be the next Liverpool manager.”
Was Henrik Larsson throwing his weight behind the 57-year-old? Had Packie Bonner backed the surprise candidate? Or did Paul Slane, he of a solitary substitute appearance for Celtic in 2012, give Postecoglou his clickbaity blessing?
The latter of the three, of course. And as phenomenal a job as Postecoglou has done in Glasgow, it would be quite something for Liverpool to replace Klopp with a manager two years older and currently in only his second post outside of Greece and Australia.
4) Steven Gerrard
The equivalent of an entire season of disappointing, distinctly unclear Premier League management has only dropped prodigal son Steven Gerrard to fourth in the market. It felt like he merely had to do an adequate job at Aston Villa to stay ahead of the pack but there will need to be a revision and a rebuild at some point lower in the ladder to regain that footing.
Gerrard has a Premier League win percentage of 32% as a manager. A selection of top-flight coaches, all of whom were in charge for more games, who have a better record includes Javi Gracia, Howard Kendall, David Pleat, Roy Hodgson, Alan Curbishley and Dean Smith. None of them Know The Club or have the requisite DNA, mind. Still, if Gerrard is to be next Liverpool manager then it stands to reason that Klopp has ridden out the current storm and hung around for a good few years. Or Gerrard has shone at PSG.
3) Xabi Alonso
Just a few months into his senior managerial career at Bayer Leverkusen, Xabi Alonso has at least overseen the most famous of victories over Bayern Munich, while securing a place in the Europa League quarter-finals.
The former Spanish midfielder started his journey the only way he knows how: at Real Sociedad. Between that post and a slowly improving job done at Leverkusen, Alonso also finds himself pretty high on the list of possible Carlo Ancelotti replacements at Real Madrid. Not bad for a 41-year-old.
2) Julian Nagelsmann
Things have suddenly become interesting. Bayern Munich’s understandable decision to part with a manager who has a perfect Champions League record this season having faced Inter Milan, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, while sitting a point off the Bundesliga summit after replacing Robert Lewandowski with Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, has opened up the field considerably.
There would still be a general cynicism and distrust over his fashion sense and obsession with nerdy tactics and such, and probably a humbling, Welcome To The Premier League defeat to someone like Bournemouth. Nagelsmann would not come without his faults and appointing someone younger than both James Milner and Adrian feels like another ingredient in a recipe for disaster.
But it really does make more than a semblance of sense if any doubt starts to creep in as to whether Klopp is the man to handle this rebuild. With Thomas Tuchel removed from the equation, Nagelsmann is an intriguing prospect.
1) Pep Lijnders
Who better than the author of a self-described “counter-pressing bible” to replace the man he has worked alongside for four remarkable years? The timing of Pep Lijnders in releasing a 400-plus page book entitled ‘Intensity’ at the precise point Liverpool appeared to have lost theirs has not been lost on the fans, but the suspicion lingers that if Klopp were to personally choose his successor, it would be his right-hand man.
Lijnders certainly knows the structure and current philosophy; it would be something of a return to the Boot Room and probably Mean More than any other managerial appointment in history. It almost doesn’t matter that his only previous experience in senior management was the five months he spent in charge of NEC in the Dutch second division almost five years ago, although it does matter a bit.
Long story short: Klopp out all you want, but do bear in mind that someone has to actually replace him and right now the options are stark.