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Josh Barker: Jurgen Klopp can bow out with the greatest final season of a Premier League manager


The main talking point in the footballing world over the last week has been Jurgen Klopp’s decision to leave Liverpool come the end of the 2023/24 season.

After announcing his departure, Liverpool hammered Norwich 5-2 in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Following that game Klopp was appreciative of the warm reception he received but has urged Liverpool fans to forget about his looming summer exit for now and instead focus on making Anfield as inhospitable an environment for opposing teams as possible over the coming months:

“The atmosphere today, the people obviously showed everything to me and it’s wonderful and I love it and it’s absolutely great,” Klopp said.

“It’s unnecessary because I know about it, but I will not say don’t do it anymore. People can do what they want definitely and I mean it. But we need obviously an atmosphere on the pitch and for that we need a crowd just not to think about the manager.

“I’m really sorry I had to mention that and these kind of things but that’s how it is. Now we just have to forget it for a while and just go for each opponent like crazy. That’s what we want to do and the next chance we have is on Wednesday.”

It is easy to see why Klopp wants the attention off him and put back onto his players as Liverpool are still in a position to create history this season.

Liverpool have a five-point lead at the Premier League summit, are into to the League Cup final, the last 16 of the Europa League and the 5th round of the FA Cup.

The Merseysiders are favourites to beat Chelsea in the League Cup final, the bookies favourite to win the Europa League and with Mohamed Salah expected back in the next week or so, still very strong contenders to dethrone Manchester City in the title race.

Should Liverpool end 2023/24 with a league title, League Cup, Europa League and potentially an FA Cup, it would be the greatest final season of any Premier League manager.

For the most part, Premier League managers are sacked, rather than announcing their departure on their own terms, which of course means their team is generally not doing so well on the pitch.

But for the few that do choose to go out on their own terms or are let go at the end of a campaign, Klopp can surpass them all in 2023/24.

The standout comparison to be made is, of course, Sir Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United in 2013. Much like Klopp this year, Ferguson was not forced out and told the club he would be leaving.

And while he did win the Premier League in that campaign, Manchester United were knocked out of the FA Cup in the 6th round, League Cup in the 4th round and Champions League in the last 16.

Another Premier League great to leave his post at the end of a season rather than being sacked was Arsene Wenger, who announced he would step down as Arsenal manager at the end of 2017/18. (Wenger did claim later he wanted to see out his contract but the Arsenal board thought it was best he left).

Regardless, Wenger was able to play out a full season in his final year at Arsenal, though he won nothing but a Community Shield.

A few other managers such as Manuel Pellegrini – who won the League Cup in his final season with Manchester City – remained at their posts for entire campaigns before being sacked but none of them really shone.

So, while the debate over how successful Klopp actually was during his time in charge of Liverpool will continue for years – especially when looking at his closest rival Pep Guardiola – the German has the ability to make undisputed history this year.

A Premier League title and League Cup would see Klopp surpass Sir Alex’s final season but if Liverpool can complete a treble or even a quadruple in 2023/24, it will surely be the best final season of any manager in England’s top-flight for years to come.

However, knowing Klopp’s luck, he will win the Premier League, League Cup and Europa League this season and then see Pep Guardiola complete a Champions League treble in his final year at Manchester City.

Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.