A Jürgen Klopp-less Liverpool isn’t something fans of the Merseysiders want to contemplate, especially not while the German has a little under three years remaining on his current deal.
However, recent comments by the 52-year-old have brought this very subject to the forefront of their everyday conversations.
“I hope to continue like this, but in two, three years I don’t know what may happen,” Klopp revealed at Sport Bild's award ceremony. “Maybe I’ll retire! It doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen, however, but if that were the case, you wouldn’t be surprised.”
The quotes come just two months after Melissa Reddy of ESPN claimed the Liverpool boss could take a sabbatical when his deal comes to an end. Taking all this into account, it’s a real possibility that come the 2022/23 season a new man could be warming the Anfield hot seat.
Finding a replacement for Klopp would not be easy. He restored the aura around the club, delivered a sixth European Cup and the Reds one of the most feared clubs in the world. He turned the players at his disposal into mentality monsters and this, in turn, transformed Anfield into the fortress of yesteryear.
His legacy isn’t yet that of Sir Alex Ferguson’s at Manchester United, but Klopp, like the former Red Devils boss, has set an almost untouchable high bar. But there are coaches out there who can use what the German tactician has built to craft their own successful part of history with the club.
Here, we take a look at four possible candidates Liverpool could turn to in an attempt to replace their charismatic manager. After all, we know the Reds plans way in advance when it comes to transfers, no doubt the same will happen with managerial appointments.
The Dutch-born coach currently lacks experience as a manager but more than makes up for that with his experience of working his way up to the top.
He started his career as a 21-year-old with PSV, helping develop their youth players before moving to Porto. He forged quite a name for himself at the Estádio do Dragão and when Liverpool moved to bring him to Merseyside in 2014 it was considered a coup.
He started in the youth academy but worked his way into the first-team picture, working with Brendan Rodgers and Klopp. Both respected him enough to trust what he suggested and his ideas were implemented.
He left the Reds in January 2018 when he accepted his first managerial job. But his five-month stint as manager of NEC saw him sacked after failing to gain promotion to the Eredivisie. However, he returned to Liverpool just one-month later and this time it was as an assistant manager.
Klopp rates him. FSG clearly have a soft spot for him, too. The easiest way to extend this success story might well be to give the job to the assistant manager, just as they did in the past.
As soon as the Liverpool legend stepped into management it’s felt when and not if he’d call the home dugout at Anfield home. His stint as the manager of the Reds' under-18 side was a success and he soon moved to Rangers for much-needed experience.
The fans at Ibrox love him and the siege mentality he’s created. It’s the sort of attitude that would serve him well as manager of the Reds. However, Gerrard is not averse to throwing players under the bus and that is something he’ll have to change if he’s to manage a top club. It isn’t really the Liverpool way and it does more harm than good to squad harmony.
Aside from that, Gerrard hasn’t shown enough tactically. There’s no evidence he can get that extra ten per cent out of players, with Rangers investing heavily since his arrival.
There’s been a huge turnover of staff and it isn’t really the best way for him to show he’s a manager capable of building a long-lasting project.
If Gerrard does get the nod it should be on his success as a manager and because of his success as a Liverpool player.
FSG seem to like the idea of hiring someone who is used to spearheading a project. Rodgers did it with Swansea and Klopp with Borussia Dortmund. Nagelsmann, meanwhile, turned Hoffenheim from strugglers to European contenders. He had a set philosophy and he made players better, all while blooding and improving youngsters.
He wasn’t as successful as Klopp in Germany but what he did with Hoffenheim was nothing short of remarkable. He’s now manager of RB Leipzig, a club considered to be a stepping stone onto bigger and better things by players. Why can’t the same be said for managers?
They've assembled a young squad and Nagelsmann has put his stamp on the team, implementing his successful Hoffenheim system.
If they, against the odds, push Bayern Munich for the title while developing the vast array of talent on show, why wouldn’t he be on Liverpool’s radar?
In some ways, Rose is similar to Nagelsmann. He started young, moved to the Red Bull project and now he’s managing Borussia Gladbach.
The 42-year-old has experience developing players and experience in winning trophies. Perhaps most importantly, however, he has experience of losing top stars and developing new ones at Red Bull Salzburg.
Rose’s Salzburg side punched above their weight in the Europa League because of the tactics he deployed. All of the players bought into what he was saying and this united front stunned many in Europe’s second-tier competition.
If he has a similar impact on Gladbach then bigger clubs will be interested in making him the poster boy of their projects, Liverpool included.