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Jurgen Klopp: Anfield overachiever leaves a Liverpool legend

Jurgen Klopp will take his final bow in front of an adoring Anfield crowd this week, as the curtain comes down on his career at Liverpool.

The German’s decision to step down at Liverpool this summer was a bombshell when announced in January, but recent months have seen the dust settle and emotion turn from shock and sorrow, to celebration.

Celebration, of course, of a tenure that has seen the self-proclaimed ‘normal one’ restore the Reds to the top table of English and European football. Liverpool’s stature in the game means their fans were never truly accepting of a sleeping giant tag, but one trophy in nine seasons prior to Klopp’s arrival, not to mention 25 years without a league title, meant the Merseysiders fit that bill.

 

The ensuing eight-and-a-half years have seen Klopp win it all. The 2019 Champions League, arriving after that semi-final comeback against Barcelona, came at a time when Klopp’s record in finals was being questioned. Any suggestion he could not handle the big occasion, after defeats on that stage twice previously, was gone.

 

Then came Premier League success and a campaign that saw Liverpool’s ‘Mentality Monsters’ come to the fore. Beaten to the title despite a club-record 97 points the previous campaign, Liverpool bounced back, dealt with the impact of a global pandemic halting their title charge, and were crowned champions of England for the first time since 1990.

It is for that achievement that Klopp will forever be remembered, though it is on far more than the trophies that his legacy is built. He understood Liverpool and Liverpool understood him, a charismatic coach who delved into the emotional background of the club and used it to his advantage.

Rival fans have used his record of one title in eight-and-a-half years as an argument against his greatness, a statistic that on a surface level puts him a distance behind Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger among the Premier League’s iconic coaches.

Context, however, is crucial.

Liverpool’s expenditure during his reign is only the sixth-highest in the Premier League. In terms of net spend, the Reds drop even further to ninth. Their investment has been less than half of what Chelsea have spent and significantly less than both Manchester clubs.

One of those Mancunian foes might just be the Premier League’s greatest-ever team. Until the current elephant in the room is removed, the Citizens’ route to success remains under a cloud but in terms of the football produced, Pep Guardiola’s team have set new standards and reached unprecedented heights.

If not for Klopp’s Liverpool, Manchester City might be celebrating a seventh consecutive Premier League title this weekend.

For Klopp to have completed the full set of major honours when up against the Manchester City machine is an astonishing overachievement. Arsenal, for one, are currently learning the challenge of scaling that particular mountain.

 

There were agonising near misses, too. Liverpool under Klopp are responsible for three of the highest nine point totals in Premier League history and are the only team to have reached 90+ points and not been crowned champions. It has happened twice.

In just less than a calendar year between February 2019 and 2020, Liverpool dropped points in just two Premier League games. Those 38 games, the equivalent of an entire Premier League campaign, yielded 110 points.

You would need to change just four results from Klopp’s entire reign to turn one Premier League title and Champions League into three-time successes in each competition. Shoulda woulda coulda perhaps, but the fine margins of football have not always fallen in his favour.

So now, he departs and one of English football’s grand venues will be in a celebratory mood this weekend. His final season might not have ended as first hoped but Klopp will receive a seismic send-off on Sunday afternoon.

He has more than deserved that ovation.

The Premier League will be a poorer place without him.

Read – Jurgen Klopp: His favourite Liverpool moments

See more – Klopp admits he ‘burst into tears’ amid Liverpool goodbyes

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