Why Jürgen Klopp Will Leave as One of Liverpool’s Greatest Managers

Sunday sees Jürgen Klopp take charge of his 491st and final game as Liverpool manager. It will be an emotional send off at Anfield, and we look at why they will be saying goodbye to one of the greatest ever.


As first impressions go, it was as good as you could probably get.

Jürgen Klopp referred to himself as “the normal one” at his inaugural press conference as Liverpool manager in October 2015, while also vowing to try and turn “doubters into believers”.

Liverpool’s fanbase were tired of false dawns and hungry to get back to the increasingly distant glory days. Klopp’s comments hit all the right notes and were enough on their own to plant the seeds of that desired belief.

That doubt within the fanbase was understandable after winning just one trophy in the previous nine years and having not won a league title since 1990.

Klopp had been handed the reigns of a giant of a club, but he was also taking over a squad that did not really match the expectations of one.

Many were surprised when his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, kept his job after following up a title challenge in 2013-14 with a poor 2014-15 season. To accentuate the slump, it ended with an embarrassing 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Stoke City in what was Steven Gerrard’s final game for the club.

Liverpool began the following season with three wins, two draws and two defeats from their first seven games, including a 3-0 home loss to West Ham and a 3-1 defeat at rivals Manchester United. Each of their three wins had only been by one goal, and so when they drew 1-1 at Everton in their next match, the decision was made to cut ties with Rodgers.

No sooner had Thierry Henry caressed Jamie Carragher’s leg in shock during Sky Sports’ coverage that talk turned to Klopp, the bookies’ immediate favourite. He had left Borussia Dortmund the previous summer after seven years and seemed an ideal fit given the job he had done to awake that particular sleeping giant. Such was the achievement of beating Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title – which he did twice – it took 12 years for anyone to do it again when Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen strolled to this season’s Meisterschale.

Klopp’s first game was a 0-0 draw at Tottenham that may not have been the most exciting, but signs of his famous gegenpressing were already on display, with Adam Lallana practically collapsing into his manager’s arms after his shift.

Klopp and Lallana

There were promising performances in that first campaign, such as a 3-1 win at Chelsea, a 4-1 demolition of Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and a 6-0 thrashing of Aston Villa, but it was an inconsistent season with a squad that was in desperate need of improvement.

Despite that, Klopp reached the League Cup and Europa League finals, but finished only eighth in the Premier League.

Managers having difficult starts to life at big clubs are often compared to Klopp, looking purely at win percentages in the opening year or so. It might make for a great headline but that line is so often used to excuse those who started in pre-season and had money to spend right away. Klopp had to hit the ground running with someone else’s squad. He didn’t bring a new player into the club until the summer of 2016.

He managed to fix the attack fairly quickly. Liverpool scored just 52 league goals in Rodgers’ final season, and managed 63 in 2015-16. In Klopp’s first full season they struck 78 goals, partly thanks to the form of new signing Sadio Mané.

After qualifying for the Champions League with a fourth-place finish, Klopp added Mohamed Salah to the mix, who came in and scored 44 goals in all competitions in his first season after arriving from Roma. Liverpool finished fourth again but also made it all the way to the Champions League final, where they were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid.

Conceding goals was still a problem, but after Virgil van Dijk had arrived in January 2018, Alisson Becker and Fabinho were signed that summer to complete the strong spine the team desperately needed. The rest, as they say, is history.

From 13 May 2018 to 28 February 2020, Klopp’s Liverpool played 66 Premier League games, winning 57, drawing eight and losing just one. Unfortunately for them, that one was a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City that proved to be decisive in the remarkable 2018-19 title race. It saw City pip Liverpool to the title by a single point, despite the Reds amassing 97 in total, the third-most ever in a Premier League season at the time. It was the start of what would be a fascinating battle between Klopp and City boss Pep Guardiola.

Most points won in a PL season

They were able to console themselves by going one better in the Champions League, beating Tottenham 2-0 in the final after one of the most dramatic semi-final progressions of all time, overcoming a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Barcelona and Lionel Messi as they beat them 4-0 at Anfield.

Klopp’s men made it clear they didn’t want to get caught out by City again, winning 26 of their first 27 league matches (D1) in 2019-20 and clinching the Premier League title with seven games remaining, the earliest a team ever has.

They won 110 points across a 38-game period that spanned the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons and ended with a 3-2 win over West Ham in February 2020, the most in Premier League history by eight points.

Liverpool won 18 of their 19 home games (D1) and won 32 games in all in 2019-20, both joint-Premier League records. At one stage they held a 25-point lead at the top, the biggest lead in the competition’s history.

Despite another strong start in 2020-21 in the eerie behind-closed-doors season during the Covid-19 pandemic, injuries derailed the second half of the campaign as Klopp lost all of his senior centre-backs to season-ending injuries. After experimenting with midfielders and emergency loan signings, he opted for inexperienced pair Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams, somehow managing to finish third.

Klopp often spoke of his team being “mentality monsters” due to their never-say-die attitude, and that was on show dramatically towards the end of that season as goalkeeper Alisson headed in an injury-time winner at West Brom to wild celebrations on the bench that almost caused more injuries.

Liverpool looked back to their best once fans and defenders returned in 2021-22, coming close to winning an unprecedented quadruple. The League Cup and FA Cup were secured before the ghosts of their past returned to haunt them.

Once again, they were pipped to the Premier League title by Man City by a point despite reaching 92, before losing 1-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in a match they dominated, denied by an inspired showing from Thibaut Courtois in the Madrid goal; the Belgian’s nine saves in that game is the most on record (since 2003-04) in a Champions League final.

The 2022-23 season was largely one to forget, even though it included some memorable victories such as the 9-0 against Bournemouth, a 7-1 away win at Rangers in the Champions League and a 7-0 thrashing of old rivals Manchester United at Anfield.

In fact, during Klopp’s time at the club they won eight games by 6+ goals, including five by 7+ as well as that Premier League record-equalling 9-0 victory vs Bournemouth.

Biggest wins under Klopp Liverpool

Liverpool only finished fifth last season, though, and were once again dumped out of the Champions League by Madrid at the last-16 stage.

Their title challenge this campaign somewhat came from nowhere, which should provide context to their capitulation in recent weeks that has seen them floating in third-place purgatory in Klopp’s final weeks. His announcement in late January that he intended to leave the club at the end of the season came as a blow, but they did win eight of their next 10 games (D1 L1) and lifted the League Cup, so it didn’t seem to have an immediate negative impact.

It might be a somewhat flat ending, but given the turnover of players in midfield last summer and the number of injuries to key players throughout the season, it was impressive they were able to go toe-to-toe with incredible Arsenal and Man City sides for as long as they did. It should give reported new head coach Arne Slot a good base to work from next season.

In total, Klopp has collected quite a trophy haul at Anfield, winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup (twice), FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and a Community Shield.

In the Premier League, he has taken charge of 333 games, with 208 wins, 78 draws and 47 losses. That’s a win percentage of 62.5% at 2.11 points per game, with 712 goals for and 331 goals against. It is also a total of 702 Premier League points won, with only Manchester City (761) winning more in that time (Arsenal third with 619).

In all competitions it’s 490 games, with 298 wins, 109 draws and 83 losses (60.8 win %), with 1,033 goals for and 503 goals against.

In their previous 23 Premier League seasons, Liverpool had only finished second three times. In Klopp’s nine seasons they have matched that total of top two finishes, while only once finishing outside the top four in his eight full seasons.

Liverpool scored 80+ goals in a league campaign five times under Klopp, having only done so once previously in the Premier League before (101 in 2013-14).

They may not be looking defensively solid right now but two of Liverpool’s three best seasons for goals conceded in the Premier League era have also come under Klopp (22 in 2018-19 and 26 in 2021-22). They had also never won more than 26 games in a Premier League season, but have now done so three times under Klopp (30 in 2018-19, 32 in 2019-20 and 28 in 2021-22).

The former Mainz and Dortmund boss is responsible for the Liverpool’s three best Premier League points totals, achieving over 90 points on three occasions. Only a trio of other clubs have ever totalled over 90 points in a Premier League campaign (Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United) before, and no team has done so more often (Man City will do so for a fourth time if they beat West Ham on Sunday).

He has also overseen two of the three longest winning runs in Premier League history, winning 17 games between March and October 2019 before going one better to win 18 on the bounce between October 2019 and February 2020. Only Pep Guardiola has achieved the same (18 between August and December 2017).

He really made Anfield a fortress too. Between February 2019 and July 2020, Klopp oversaw 24 consecutive league wins at Anfield; the longest ever home winning run in English top-flight history.

Klopp won’t be sorry to see the back of Crystal Palace, who he lost to three times at Anfield, though it’s notable that between losing 2-1 to the Eagles in April 2017 and 1-0 in April 2024 almost seven years later, Klopp’s Liverpool only lost once at home in the Premier League in front of fans (2-1 vs Leeds United in October 2022). They did lose six times in a row at home in the 2020-21 campaign, but all of those games were behind closed doors.

One of the main things Klopp’s Liverpool will be remembered for is late winners, having scored a 90th-minute winner in 18 Premier League games, more than any other team since the German took over.

Their ability to come from behind has also been unrivalled. Since Klopp’s first game in charge in October 2015, Liverpool have won 157 points from losing positions, more than any other side across Europe’s top five leagues.

Klopp’s most used player was one he inherited from Rodgers. Roberto Firmino made 355 appearances in all competitions for Klopp before he left for the Saudi Pro League last summer, ahead of Salah (348), James Milner (323), Trent Alexander-Arnold (309) and Jordan Henderson (304).

Most appearances under Klopp Liverpool

Less surprisingly, Mohamed Salah will be the man to have scored the most often for Klopp, assuming Diogo Jota doesn’t start on Sunday and score 156 goals against former club Wolves. Salah’s 211 strikes are 91 more than the next most, his former partner in crime Mané (120).

Goals scored under Klopp Liverpool

He is not getting the fairytale ending, though up against Arsenal and Man City in the form they have been in it was always unlikely. He can, though, still be proud of a final season that brought a trophy and comfortable Champions League qualification.

Klopp is unquestionably one of the great Premier League managers and should he ever choose to return to the dugout, you will see a long line of elite clubs desperate to speak to his agent, Marc Kosicke.

In an interview earlier this week with The Anfield Wrap, Klopp said: “We turned all together from doubters to believers. So, the main message is keep believing and you can keep changing the world.”

That said, he almost certainly leaves with Liverpool fans filled with as much doubt as ever… that they will ever have a connection and love for a manager as much as Jürgen Klopp again.


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