After nearly nine years with the job and eight major trophies won, Jürgen Klopp will step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season, having ushered in a glorious era worthy of the clubs’ greats. 

Merseyside mediocrity

On October 4, 2015, Brendan Rogers was sacked as manager of Liverpool FC. Only 18 months earlier, he seemed destined to win Liverpool their first league title in over 20 years, only for an infamous slip from Steven Gerrard to end those dreams. 

Gerrard’s legendary status was forever tarnished, destined to be remembered for one fatal slip. That same summer, the club’s golden boy Raheem Sterling moved over to Manchester, and Gerrard himself traded his dreams of a title with his boyhood team for the beaches in LA

It seemed the Liverpool glory days under Bob Paisley were long gone, where winning was a foregone conclusion. The miraculous night in Istanbul — where Liverpool vanquished the mighty AC Milan after being three goals down in the 2005 Champions League final — might have been from another life. Now, it was mid-table mediocrity for the Merseyside faithful. 

But then came their saviour — a man chosen because the math said he was the one to bring back the good times. Klopp was the one to fix it all.

Heavy metal football

Klopp inherited a mediocre squad, littered with mid-table level players like Joe Allen and Steven Caulker — an eighth-place finish in his first season was no surprise. But season two is where the fun begins; winger Sadio Mané and midfielder Georgino Wijnaldum came in, and Liverpool finished fourth. In his third season, right-winger Mohammed Salah joined and now the Klopp style of soccer took shape, drilling into them his tactics of gegenpressing. 

Gegenpressing refers to an attacking style of play in which a team will ‘counter-press’ the opposition. When the team loses the ball, rather than falling into a negative defensive shape, the team goes on the offensive, pressing the opposition to regain the ball instantly. Resulting in the defense playing a high line as the team pushes forward as one to regain possession, removing the traditional idea that the team who has lost the ball is most vulnerable. 

Klopp called this “heavy metal football,” and the results showed the kind of flair Mick Jagger would approve of. With Salah, Mané, and Roberto Firmino — the last in a free-roaming ‘false nine’ role — leading the line, Liverpool scored 89 goals in the 2018–2019 Premier League season alone

Virgil Van Djik marshalled the defence with skills that were more befitting of a midfielder — like his ability to read the game and have composure on the ball, allowing the team to build out and attack from the back. Elsewhere, several up-and-coming goalkeepers have been inspired by Liverpool goalie Alisson Becker’s incredible ball control and decision-making skills. Under Klopp’s wing, Andrew Robertson became one of the world’s best left-backs, and despite his occasional defence deficiencies, right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has outstanding attacking skills similar to David Beckham. 

Many other managers have sought to emulate Klopp. Graham Potter tricked Chelsea into giving him 25.4 million CAD thanks to his similar “possession-based” style of football, and Luis Enrique won the treble with Barcelona, playing equally as directly and ambitiously as Klopp. 

Ending a drought

After watching their fiercest rivals, Manchester United, take 13 league titles and the nouveau-riche Chelsea and Manchester City taking a few themselves, it was finally Liverpool’s turn in 2020. After a season in which they dominated rivals, scoring for fun and enjoying a 44-match unbeaten run, the rock and roll concert was in full force at Anfield. Klopp had done the impossible job — after 30 years, he brought the English league title back to Merseyside. 

There were a few lows throughout his tenure, like the injury crisis of 2021, which was so dire that the haphazard Ozan Kabak played actual Champions League minutes. Yet in the nine years since Klopp took over, the lows were few, and the highs encapsulated the beautiful football that made his teams so exciting. The Premier League is now losing a true legend in the departure of “the normal one.”