John Aldridge: 'Liverpool must have succession plan ready if Jurgen Klopp decides to step away from football'
The stress and pressure of management made me ill at one point
So I can understand why Jurgen Klopp has said he might step away from football and take a break when his contract with Liverpool runs out in three years.
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It’s a scare for Liverpool supporters and, of course, every fan of the club hopes that he will stay on for a long time.
He has taken the club on board and taken it to heart, he is like a present-day Shankly, in many ways, so everyone wants him to stay for a long time.
But everything has a lifespan and sometimes you need to just enjoy it while you can.
Liverpool’s success in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Manchester United in the ‘90s: you need to enjoy it while it lasts, and Liverpool supporters need to do that now, take in all that is happening as nothing lasts forever.
But I can appreciate why a manager would want to take a break.
Klopp was on his sabbatical when he came to Liverpool, when he decided they were the club for him, and Pep Guardiola has also taken a break from management for a while.
I know that managing Tranmere Rovers in the Championship 20 years ago is very different to managing in the Premier League in 2019.
The intensity of the job as a Premier League manager now, with a world-wide focus on every decision you make, can’t compare to what I was doing when I was in charge of Tranmere back then.
But I can understand what it takes out of you as a person.
I had to get out of the game after Tranmere as I was ill, I had made myself ill with the worry and stress.
So I can see Klopp’s logic in considering a break. You miss out on so much in terms of family, you need to be devoted and focused to do a job like Liverpool. You can’t take your eye off the ball at all if you want to be a success. You only get out what you put in and he must put in so much.
In my case at Tranmere, I was at it 24-hours a day, seven days a week, I have always been a winner as a person and I took that mentality into the job, it was never just a job for me.
I saw other managers with lots of staff around them. I’d see Sam Aallrdyce with 20 people around him and all he had to do was pick the team... I didn’t have that at Tranmere.
I took Tranmere to the League Cup final and an FA Cup run where we lost to Liverpool so our Cup form was good but league form was awful. I couldn’t see myself turning it around so I bailed out with 10 games to go to give someone else a chance to keep them up (and they didn’t stay up, sadly). For the sake of my family and my health, I had to step away and walk out on management.
So if and when Klopp does step away, the club have to support the decision, but also be prepared and make sure they have the right replacement keep doing what needs to be done.
If and when he does leave, I don’t think there would be too much to change as so much is already in place.
Succession has been the Liverpool way for a long time: it went from Shankly to Paisley and nothing much changed.
It was all run like a machine and you’d have to hope the same would happen if and when Klopp goes.
But there is no need for panic from Liverpool fans, it’s not as if he’s threatening to leave next year, and it’s not the case that he’s trying to get a so-called better or bigger job for himself, the way some managers at other clubs have done.
And the team are in a good place now, they had what could have been a real test against Arsenal last weekend but they came through it.
One criticism I would have is that Liverpool seemed to take the foot off the gas when it went to 3-0, instead of going for a fourth goal, or more, they eased off. Adam Lallana came on and I’d have felt that Xherdan Shaqiri could have done more damage, maybe sought that fourth or fifth goal.
But you have to respect Arsenal, they are always a tough side to play against because of what they have going forward.
Pepe looks a bit naive at the moment but he could be a really good player for them.
Arsenal are a threat in attack, as they showed when they got a goal back when it looked like Liverpool really could win 4-0 or 5-0, but their problems are at the back.
David Luiz was not a good buy for them.
When you have had defensive problems for a while you need a proper centre-half who can defend, and defend well, not a playmaker, and until they really fix their defence, they will struggle to compete properly.