WHILE listening to The Anfield Wrap’s show on Radio City Talk on Friday night, there was one line which struck home with me. “There’s kind of nowhere to go from that if it doesn’t work out.” Words spoken by Craig Rimmer that hit home with me, writes SIMON FURNIVALL.
Before word began to spread that the choice to replace Brendan Rodgers was like to be either Carlo Ancelotti or Jürgen Klopp much was made of an apparent lack of ambition from the club’s owners, FSG. There were many who openly wondered whether they had the same desire as fans did to win the league, was bobbing along, occasionally getting into the Champions League and selling more corporate seats the limit of what they wanted for Liverpool? I’d had thoughts along that line myself.
That is a charge which can no longer be levelled. You don’t appoint Jürgen Klopp as manager on the size of salary which has been widely reported in the press (£7million a year) unless you are serious about winning the league. Because you can be damned sure that Klopp is serious about winning the league. However, what it also represents is FSG’s last role of the dice to bring meaningful success to Anfield.
Tom Werner, John Henry and all the others involved in Fenway Sports Group have tried varying approaches to winning since they arrived in October 2010. Once they had gone through the formality of dispensing with Roy Hodgson, their first port of call was the previously successful club legend. The King answered the call and won loads of games, getting himself a permanent deal, but as time ebbed on the shine began to wear off, results followed and though he won us a cup (and nearly two) it wasn’t enough. It was time for a new direction.
In the summer of 2012 it was decided that young, modern and full of potential was the way to go. Roberto Martinez was one option, but the club settled on Rodgers, a man who in his two seasons at Swansea had won them promotion from the Championship and then guided them to eleventh place in the Premier League, all the while playing a brand of possession-based football that won praise from all quarters to go along with the points on the board. An intriguing appointment, but one which others saw as confirmation of where Liverpool stood in the game — no longer able to attract the biggest talents.
Of course, Rodgers’ time at the club took Liverpool as close to the league title as they have been since 1990. Coaching players to better levels and giving me and many others the most fun we’ve ever had watching a football team. But eventually the strain began to show, both the fun and the world-class players seeped away, leaving only a seething mass of fume. Fume that had only one conclusion. It was time for another new direction.
But this time it was no choice between up and coming managers. It wasn’t turning to potential having been unable to tempt the best. It was putting the money where their mouth is and attracting a man who would have been on the shortlist for any of the world’s biggest clubs where they in need of a new manager.
Before Real Madrid appointed Rafa Benítez, there was talk of Klopp. In the ongoing guessing game of who will replace Pep Guardiola when he packs up his bags and heads for a new challenge (please not in Manchester) there was talk of Klopp. But there is no longer talk of Klopp for these clubs because FSG rolled the dice, put their cards on the table, marshalled as many other clichés as you can think of and got the man everyone wanted.
It doesn’t seem like there could have been a better fit for Liverpool than Klopp. Everything said about and by him since Monday just screams that he was a Liverpool manager in waiting. I can’t remember seeing the fans so giddy with excitement at a managerial appointment. It feels meant to be. But what if it doesn’t work out? What if, in three or four years’ time, having perhaps come as close as Rodgers, Benítez and Gérard Houllier did to writing themselves into Liverpool history as the man who ended the wait, the fun stops, the anger builds and it turns out that the pressure of winning the title for the Reds in an unfair system has broken yet another manager? Where do FSG go then?
The answers is, most likely, nowhere. As Craig Rimmer said, there isn’t anywhere left for them to turn after this. All that would be left for them to do is cash in their chips and admit that it hasn’t worked. It strikes me that if Klopp can’t win the title for Liverpool with the footballing landscape as it stands then there’s probably no-one who can.
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