Are the final weeks of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool tenure a disaster that’s been coming, or are they a setback on a trajectory set for revival?


WELL, this isn’t good.

The final days of Rome. Relationships in tatters, certainties atrophying toconcerns, the golden age a lifetime ago.

My thoughts come the final whistle flew to my favourite scene in The Godfather. The garden scenewhere the outgoing Don Corleone transfers power to his youngest son. He knows that what lies ahead might be turbulent so he passes over what knowledge he has. It’s a beautifully written scene.

“There wasn’t enough time, Michael. There wasn’t enough time.”

There was enough time for Klopp 2.0. We thought there might have been and in those days when it seemed possible, you live it like there’s no chance of failure. But it wasn’t to be. The legs grew tired, the miracles were fewer and we just didn’t have enough. Palace was frustrating, Goodison a horror-show and West Ham a mush of ‘alright at times’ and ‘FFS Liverpool’. Antony Taylor netted the equaliser with an assist from some pretty unbelievable incompetence.

Goodison hurt the most. That’s the one ground you show up at. If you have to outfight them, then be prepared for that. If you have to show patience when there are fires all over the pitch then bring the ball down and pass it. Liverpool had none of that. We were bereft of ideas, quality and tactical nous. On the touchline, the manager looked lost. No one needs to see that. That man deserves everything.

He’s since had more to deal with in the dugout. Come Saturday, the frustration spilled out when his record goalscorer had a go at him. The last thing we need.

“You have two people who are equally important to the football club,” said Stephen Warnock on the BBC.

Not even close, mate. Not even close. I don’t care how many goals he’s scored. You don’t do that.

And you certainly don’t carry it on afterwards.

It’s probably nothing – we all have disagreement with our bosses – but it wouldn’t have happened when Rome stood stronger.

My mate summed it up perfectly at the weekend. “This isn’t us.”

But it’s difficult to work out what ‘us’ is this season. A turbo charged new XI who could take on the world’s most expensive club, or one that’s been swinging wildly and just connecting at the right time.

Have we just gone above our level for so long that muddier form was inevitable? Is it just a bad month? Is a trophy and Top Four a great season and we should just get over ourselves just because we blew a gasket in the last few weeks? Isn’t it all of those things?

Let’s face it, that’s a decent campaign and if Slot mirrors it next season he’d have had a hell of a start. It’s just that this season made us dream and they’re the best kind of seasons. The one where you have to keep a clear head and remember how we’ve developed rather than looking askance at others, with the trophies we’ve craved.

A season of change which has delivered a trophy and the boardroom’s trophy of Champions League football revenue. It just doesn’t feel like enough when we’d had a decent glimpse at the title.

“There wasn’t enough time, Michael.”

But there’s always time. There’ll always be Liverpool. Jurgen’s notice period doesn’t end that. There’ll be more drama, glory and disappointment to come. It just won’t be the same without him.

This isn’t good, but it’s hardly disastrous. Time always gives perspective. On Wednesday night I was calling them everything under the sun. I’d never go for the manager but that Gomez/Tsimikas substitution had me frowning for a long time and the idea of Jurgen getting it wrong is always an uncomfortable opinion.

Now, with Top Four confirmed and the other fixtures less interesting, it seems fair to look at what he’s done this term. A new midfield, the kids winning at Wembley against a side that brought on an £80m player to take a penalty and the months where transition looked like fast-tracking.

Alisson, Trent, Matip, Virgil, Robbo, Hendo, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Mane, Firmino, Salah. Those were the days, but they couldn’t last forever. How do you out-buy age and form? Well, you need time and a cruise liner worth of perspective. That’s never easy and it’s harder to assess that when they’re walking around lost in Goodison, or stymied at the London Stadium.

The last few weeks haven’t felt like fun and I hated the feeling of dislike I had for so many players last Wednesday night. There was a time when I had a pretty low opinion on most of them, as they were talking a big game while delivering little. The 1990s, in fact. It was with a sense of nostalgia that I was able to tell myself that we’d gone a bit shit again.

But this is progress. This is definitely progress. The good signs are there and if the new lad can harness the development of Conor, Bobby, Jayden, Jarell, Lewis and James then we’re onto something.

I just wish this had ended better for Jurgen. That’s the biggest regret.

Incidentally, my favourite scene in my favourite season, ends with the young Michael patting the old man on the shoulder and saying, ‘We’ll get there, Pop. We’ll get there.’

We’ll always get there.


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