It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But mostly, it was the worst of times.
Who could have seriously thought that in the season directly after steering Liverpool to their first ever Premier League championship, Jurgen Klopp’s next ground-breaking achievement would be to oversee six consecutive league defeats at Anfield.
That milestone is not just unwanted but also unprecedented, with Liverpool having previously never lost even five successive home games over the club’s 129-year history.
These are unprecedented times, of course. On the one hand, Liverpool are operating under the same difficult circumstances that every other Premier League side has had to face this campaign. Be that as it may, it’s fair to say the Merseyside club has been hit hard by the unique demands of the current season.
In addition to the empty stands at Anfield which no longer intimidate the opposition, the unforgiving, treadmill-like demands of the current schedule may also have affected some of the players. Throw in the absence through injury of some of Liverpool’s key men, and it’s not surprising the side’s progress has been hampered.
It’s also fair to say that often, sides struggle to motivate themselves after winning the thing they have wanted for so long. Liverpool had been seeking to win the top flight for the last 30 years without success, before Klopp’s team embarked on their unstoppable quest for glory last season.
There are reasonable explanations why Liverpool might be struggling this season then – even if the scale of their recent decline is, honestly, a little astonishing. Who knows, Klopp may yet turn this current crisis around; the side could still conceivably win the Champions League this season.
Still, Liverpool have tumbled down to eighth in the league table after their defeat to Fulham at the weekend, and there are some who believe not simply that Klopp has peaked, but that he needs to be replaced. At the current time of writing, Klopp is 4/1 to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.
That might seem premature, with the Athletic reporting that owners FSG are definitely not looking to make a change. Still, what if Klopp himself decides to call it a day? Who would replace the gegenpressing goliath? Here are three contenders.
The RB Leipzig man is the youngest high profile coach in the game, steering Leipzig to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season despite his tender years. Still waiting to land his first trophy, Nagelsmann may not quite be the finished article yet, but that hasn’t prevented his many admirers from regarding the 33-year-old as a coach for the future.
Klopp and Nagelsmann share the same agent, which could smooth the way for an orderly transition for all concerned if Jurgen does do one in the near future. It’s not like the current Liverpool coach would be short of offers, either; with the announcement earlier today that Jogi Low is to quit his role as coach with the German international side after the 2020 Euros, there’s been speculation that Klopp could consider taking on Low’s role – though the man himself insists he’s not interested.
Anyway, in a delightful moment of serendipity, Liverpool play Leipzig on Wednesday… with Liverpool having won the first leg convincingly 2-0. Find the latest betting here
Rangers fans will be hopeful that the man who just steered their side to Scottish Premiership glory for the first time in a decade is planning to stick around for a while. And Gerrard himself has suggested that he’s just getting started in Glasgow, citing his desire to win more for the Gers.
Still, Gerrard’s connection with Liverpool is impossible to ignore – and if the Merseyside team were to approach Stevie G, they’d be continuing with a trend that has seen various club legends return to manage the side where they achieved their greatest accomplishments as players.
It’s worked for Liverpool in the past of course, with Kenny Dalglish experiencing huge success at Anfield in the eighties, both as player and manager. But the club-icon-as-saviour approach doesn’t always pay off; Frank Lampard’s time at Chelsea came to an abrupt end earlier this season.
In any case, Gerrard has proven his credentials, and it seems likely that a man of his ambition and quality will return to Anfield at some point. Hopefully, not just yet though.
Allegri is a more widely experienced option for Anfield – and a coach who has enjoyed huge success in his native Italy. He’s also definitely available right now.
Allegri has not worked for a club since he parted ways with Juventus two years ago, but the 53-year-old has a raft of titles in Serie A, winning the scudetto in five consecutive years with Juve.
During that spell, he also won four back-to-back doubles, and enjoyed a win percentage of 70.48% during his time in charge at the OId Lady – that’s the highest in the history of the club. But Allegri’s reputation isn’t solely based on his time in Turin, with the coach having made his name by winning the league championship with Milan in 2011.
Perhaps Allegri’s achilles heel is his failure to win in Europe, but Juventus have gone close there too under this manager, Allegri guiding his team to the Champions League final in both 2015 and 2017. A club of Liverpool’s stature might be exactly what this established coach has been holding out for since his Italian exit.
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