It’s a prospect Liverpool supporters would prefer not to think about: that one day Jürgen Klopp will no longer be manager of their beloved club. The idea of the charismatic German leaving Anfield is not unlike the onset of pattern baldness in that it might very well not happen, but the statistical probability of it eventually occurring is fairly sizeable. But of course you never know, one could have a healthy head of hair well into one’s twilight years and Klopp could continue to manage Liverpool until robots are the only ones actually playing football.
While current Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders is rumored in some corners to be the continuity option on the sad day Klopp chooses to end his time at the club, the 52-year-old has come out with his choice of successor: Liverpool legend Steven George Gerrard.
“Kenny [Dalglish] and Stevie have both been a really big support from day one,” the German manager told FourFourTwo magazine in a recent interview.
“Second, my position as a manager has nothing to do with the people around me. If Liverpool were to sack me tomorrow, then maybe Kenny would be the first choice to replace me, but they would probably bring Stevie down from Glasgow.”
The one dubbed Captain Fantastic is of course cutting his managerial teeth in the Scottish top flight at Rangers, having opened his sophomore season in charge at the club strongly both domestically and in Europe. Prior to then, the 39-year-old had gotten his start at the U18 side at his boyhood club, displaying that single-minded determination to improve that he displayed in his career on the pitch.
It’s an idiosyncratically Liverpudlian fighting spirit that the current Reds manager believes would be the best fit for the club:
“If you ask who should follow me, I’d say Stevie. I help him whenever I can,” Klopp continued. “If someone gets your job, it’s not about them, it’s about you not being good enough.
“I’m old enough to know that I give this job everything. I’m not a genius, I’m not perfect, but I give the club 100 per cent. If that’s enough, great. If it’s not, then it’s just the problem of the situation.
“I’m not jealous, I’m not skeptical. I’m completely open. If you want my help, you’ll get it.
“My family often thinks that I’m too quick to open up, but I think being any other way is a waste of time. I love life, I love my job, I like most people – that’s how it is.”
Klopp and the owners in FSG will know that a well-managed succession process will be vital to maintaining the club’s success into the future and will have drawn lessons from the chaotic and mismanaged aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from Manchester United that plagues the club to this day.
But if the keys to Shankly Gates are to pass from Klopp to anyone else (way, way, way) in the future, one can’t imagine better hands to put them in than those of a lifelong servant of the club like Stevie.