Jurgen Klopp piles on the pressure by confirming interest in Liverpool job
Jurgen Klopp has increased the pressure on Brendan Rodgers by making it known he would prematurely end his year-long sabbatical for the right Premier League club.
A day after former AC Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti’s name was heavily linked with a move to Merseyside, associates of former Borussia Dortmund boss Klopp alerted Anfield officials to the possibility of recruiting another high-calibre replacement should they end Rodgers’ tenure.
Liverpool are adamant that no discussions have been held with any manager. However, there is no doubt that Rodgers is clinging to his job as he prepares his team to face Aston Villa tomorrow.
Klopp has spoken before about the attraction of working in the Premier League and was linked with Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United over the past few seasons.
Wednesday’s penalty shoot-out victory over League Two side Carlisle United in the League Cup served only to raise further doubts about Rodgers’ future.
The standard of results and performances this season has left the manager’s most ardent boardroom supporters uncertain how much longer he can survive.
The hawks within Fenway Sports Group want change, which leaves all eyes on principal owner and majority shareholder John W Henry.
Should a change follow, Klopp has long been considered the most likely fit for FSG.
Indeed, when they were assessing managers ahead of appointing Rodgers in 2012, it was Klopp’s work in Germany – overcoming the financial muscle of Bayern Munich to win two Bundesliga titles – that became a blueprint for how FSG wanted to operate.
Klopp’s availability, allied to that of Ancelotti, offers a ready-made alternative for Henry should he decide Rodgers is unable to reverse a decline that began with the sale of Luis Suarez in the summer of 2014.
However, there is no guarantee that Klopp would be as attractive to FSG now as he was during his most successful spell in Dortmund and, if Rodgers went, Liverpool would explore numerous options.
Klopp won the Bundesliga in 2011 and 2012, a year in which he completed the ‘double’ in German football. He lost the 2013 Champions League final to Bayern at Wembley, and opted for a break from football at the end of last season after a difficult final year.
Ancelotti, meanwhile, is a multiple title and Champions League winner across Europe.
If Liverpool seek a safe pair of hands having earlier favoured an up-and-coming coach, there is no doubt the Italian will have his boardroom supporters.
Liverpool are seeking immediate results with the existing squad rather than another long-term project involving another era of rebuilding.
The fact that two highly respected managers are available and seemingly open to the prospect of moving to Anfield is leaving Rodgers even more vulnerable.
Should the club change their coaching structure, Steven Gerrard’s name is sure to be a topic of conversation as Liverpool seek to establish how soon he could be reintegrated back into the club.
After facing Villa tomorrow, Liverpool play Sion in the Europa League and then travel to Everton on October 4.
That Merseyside derby fixture already has a defining look about it, coming before a two-week international break.
The unequivocal boardroom backing that was offered after the most sobering defeats last season – specifically the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Villa and 6-1 loss to Stoke City – has completely evaporated.
FSG always said they would make sound judgments based on results and performances, but more studiously with an eye on the longer-term.
As a Liverpool team valued at £130m toiled to get beyond the centre-halves of Carlisle, the here and now was so wretched few dared to think how much worse it could get.
Henry is not in the business of making knee-jerk decisions, but any judgment made in the coming weeks cannot be assumed to be such.
Should Rodgers pay the price in the next few weeks, it will not be a direct consequence of what has happened at the start of this season but a culmination of the last 14 months.