John Gibbons: Liverpool should already be plotting Jurgen Klopp’s successor

You got to plan for the future.


Liverpool are European Champions and top of the Premier League with a perfect record.

Despite a very rare defeat to Napoli on Tuesday night, you might be forgiven for thinking that things couldn’t be more positive at Anfield at the moment. But this is the city of Liverpool, and we’re complicated people. A curious mix of optimism and pessimism.

Tell us something is going to go wrong, we’ll tell you it’ll all be fine. Tell us everything is brilliant, however, and we’ll immediately start to speculate how it might all fall apart.

We’re suspicious of everything.

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This is the mindset that results in the drama around Jurgen Klopp’s contract situation. The situation being that he is contracted for another three seasons and he thinks that is fine for now.

But, because Liverpool would understandably like to extend that and because we’re all mad, it has become a story.

Man may or may not leave a job in three years’ time. Hold the back pages.

But, maybe I am wrong, maybe it does need thinking about now. Although Jurgen Klopp hasn’t explicitly said he is leaving at the end of his current contract, he does seem to be preparing everyone for the possibility, talking about sabbaticals from football and a break from the game.

His agent too added more fuel and a misunderstood joke about climate change to the fire this week.

Added to the fact that the summer of 2022 will mean almost seven years at the club, which is the same amount of time he spent managing Mainz and Dortmund, then it starts to feel like, for Jurgen, the seven-year itch is very real.

Three years might seem a long time now, but the football club will already be thinking ahead to Jurgen Klopp’s long-term replacement. Who are the hot emerging managers in world football who could offer continuity with what Jurgen has built?

Could Pep Lijnders transfer his brilliant coaching to elite level management?

I’m sure each impressive victory Steven Gerrard gets in Europe, like beating Feyenoord on Thursday night, will be noted down too. Whether they like it or not, Liverpool have to start to plan for a Klopp-less future.

There is no blueprint for Liverpool to successfully do this, they have had success and failures using different tactics. The last time a similarly charismatic leader left Liverpool was Bill Shankly and he was replaced by his assistant Bob Paisley, who was even more successful than Shanks – which supports the idea of Pep Lijnders being given a go.

However, eventually promoting from within ran its cause, and Liverpool had to look outside the walls of Melwood for new ideas.

They did that by offering the job to Graeme Souness.

Souness had been a legendary midfielder at Liverpool, lifting the European Cup before having success as a manager at, you guessed it, Glasgow Rangers. All sound familiar?

Steven Gerrard might have been similar to Souness as a player, but he will be hoping he is much more similar to Kenny Dalglish in terms of turning on the pitch brilliance into managerial success – should he ever be given the opportunity to do so.

Of course, The Reds might choose to go with someone with no connection to Liverpool whatsoever.

Liverpool’s last two European Cups have been won by foreign managers who embraced the city and people as much as the team. But this doesn’t always happen, as we know.

The less said about the disastrous Roy Hodgson-era the better, but it is fair to say connecting with the supporter base wasn’t one of his strong points.

Basically, it is going to be really hard to replace Jurgen Klopp and there is no guaranteed method for ensuring it is successful.

So instead of worrying about what might happen when he moves on, let’s just make the most of the time whilst he is here.

All we know is that this football team is a joy to watch, so let’s enjoy watching them.

Live in the moment and worry about the future when it arrives. It might get better, it might get worse, but it’s certainly brilliant now.

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What do you think?