How Jurgen Klopp’s farewell personified his legacy at Liverpool

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Vinay Patel

As the full-time whistle blew against Wolves at Anfield, Liverpool fans were forced to face a reality that was four months in the making but one that seemed implausible for nearly a decade. Jurgen Klopp was no longer the manager of Liverpool Football Club. The German leaves Merseyside with a complete trophy cabinet, the Freedom of the City of Liverpool and a gaping hole that any club would struggle to fill. Impact’s Vinay Patel discusses how Klopp’s farewell personified his untouchable legacy at Anfield.

Goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Jarrell Quansah were enough to secure a positive result on the final day of the season. However, the Liverpool manager was quick to place a positive spin on what would prove to be an emotional farewell at full-time.

Expecting to “be in pieces”, Klopp even surprised himself and expressed his happiness about “the atmosphere, the game, being part of this family [and] about us”. From start to finish, the Anfield faithful were in full voice as they serenaded a jukebox of player (and manager) chants created under the German’s tenure, both past and present.

It was an atmosphere that had been sorely lacking following the Reds’ dismal form that saw them crash out of their remaining three competitions in the space of a month. Despite being unable to deliver Klopp the trophy-laden farewell befitting of his impact at Liverpool, the Kop had found their voice again for one last dance.

A guard of honour was formed for departing players and coaches

After the full-time whistle, a guard of honour was formed for departing players and coaches alike, with notable departures including Thiago, Joel Matip and assistant manager Pep Ljinders. Klopp’s insistence on a coaches’ ceremony equal to that of the players merely reinforces the familial bond he has created at Anfield.

When asked which home game he could go back to if he had a choice, the German’s response was as amusing as it was thought-provoking, “One of the City games we drew! That would’ve helped, eh!” While Klopp had lifted every possible trophy with Liverpool, a closer look at his trophy cabinet could leave one feeling underwhelmed, especially compared to the juggernaut that is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Out of Klopp’s 491 games in charge of the Reds, four results could have drastically altered his legacy: Champions League final defeats against Real Madrid in 2018 and 2022 respectively, the 2-1 league defeat to Man City in 2019 and the 2-2 league draw played out between the two sides in 2021.

Liverpool could have been the first side in English football to complete an invincible double of the Premier League and Champions League in 2019, while securing their third Premier League title in 2022. Moreover, taking down their bogey side in Real Madrid would have made Klopp a three-time Champions League winner.

Such are the fine margins in football meant that the Liverpool manager will rightly feel hard done by in regards to what he could have achieved. Alternatively, it is understandable why both Klopp and Liverpool emphasise the phrase, “This means more.” All eight of the trophies won under Jurgen Klopp are attached with a plethora of special memories, be it that night against Barcelona under the Anfield lights or “Klopp’s kids against the billion-pound bottle jobs.”  

In a footballing sense, Klopp’s legacy can be translated to his rivalry with Pep Guardiola over the years. In a Premier League era where the Cityzens completed a record-breaking fourth consecutive title, the German remains the only manager to prevent Guardiola from extending that figure to seven.

The pinnacle of their rivalry was played out at the Etihad Stadium in January 2019, which saw John Stones’ infamous goal-line clearance effectively secure the title (by 1.12 centimetres). A charismatic German in charge of a financially limited club made for an effective David, to challenge a Goliath who took the form of a footballing mastermind backed by the unlimited riches of the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Klopp took it upon himself to rebuild the side

While Klopp’s time at Liverpool was coming to an end, he felt it was the opposite for his squad. “It doesn’t feel like an end, it just feels like the start. I saw a football team today full of talent, youth, creativity, desire and greed.” After a disappointing campaign last year saw the Reds finish outside of the top four for the first time in six seasons, Klopp took it upon himself to rebuild the side. With the help of short-term sporting director Jorg Schmadtke, Liverpool oversaw several senior departures such as James Milner, Roberto Firmino and club captain Jordan Henderson.

The Reds were quick to acquire World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister, from Brighton and the Argentine was followed by midfielders Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch. All have shown promise throughout the season and the individual quality among the new-look midfield has never looked stronger.

Concerns about signing a centre-back were quickly allayed with the emergence of academy graduate Jarrell Quansah, who has seamlessly transitioned from his loan at Bristol Rovers to a well-earned inclusion in England’s senior squad.

Klopp has placed a huge amount of faith in the youth

Historically, Klopp has placed a huge amount of faith in the youth, with notable academy graduates including Trent Alexander Arnold, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott. His most recent example was during the Carabao Cup final triumph against Chelsea, in which an injury-hit Liverpool was forced to field a side whose average age was less than twenty-two and several young Reds were given a baptism of fire.

While the Liverpool manager will not oversee the fruition of “Liverpool 2.0”, he has left them well-placed to fight for major honours that the club has become accustomed to during his tenure.  

During his unveiling in October 2015, Klopp etched an everlasting mantra throughout his time at the club, implying that, “You have to change from doubters to believers”. While it is undeniable that he achieved just that, the German was quick to dismiss anything of the sort. “That’s not true. Believing is an act, you have to do it yourself. I just said we have to, you did it. That’s a big difference”.

The dismissal of his predecessor Brendan Rodgers, signalled a major identity crisis for the club, not least because of long-serving captain Steven Gerrard’s departure in the summer prior. The club had only seen Champions League football twice in the past eight years and a maiden Premier League title seemed further away than ever. With their overall squad significantly weaker compared to their rivals, hope was dwindling. In stepped Jurgen Klopp and the rest is history.

The fate of their club was in safe hands for as long Klopp was steadying the helm

Liverpool fans soon adopted the phrase, “In Jurgen we trust”, implying that the fate of their club was in safe hands for as long Klopp was steadying the helm. He had endured copious amounts of pressure that would have resulted in managerial departures at other clubs, be it forcibly or voluntarily.

But even after the injury crisis during the 2020/21 season that saw the Reds feebly concede their title defence or the dramatic decline in form last season, the unwavering support of the Anfield faithful remained. In actuality, Klopp was a father figure for players in the dressing room as well as those in the stands.

During his speech, Klopp also spoke of the “wonderful” stadium and training centre that belongs to the club, before honouring the fans as the “superpower of world football”. Developments to the Main Stand and Anfield Road End throughout Klopp’s reign have added over 15,000 seats, taking Anfield’s new stadium capacity to 61,000.

The Reds also moved from their Melwood training ground to the AXA Training Centre in November 2020, based in Kirkby. The training centre is split lengthwise into two halves for the first team and under-21s respectively. The two halves are separate, as are the entrances and other facilities but at the request of Klopp, only a single corridor joins the two halves of the building together. This was done to reiterate the symbolic nature of a “pathway” to the first team.

Klopp chose to go the extra mile for Slot

The German’s unique bond with Liverpool fans was reaffirmed, promising his continued support of the club. “Since today, I am one of you and I keep believing in you. I stay a believer one hundred per cent.” Klopp also encouraged the Reds to hold that same belief for his successor, Arne Slot. While a manager wholly supporting his successor is not an unprecedented phenomenon, as seen through Sir Alex Ferguson’s belief in Scottish counterpart David Moyes, Klopp chose to go the extra mile for Slot.

By using the same tune of Live is Life, by Austrian band Opus, that was used by the Kop for his chant, Klopp simply replaced his own name with Slot’s…

“Arne Slot, la la la la la!”

He urged the Reds to “go full throttle into it”. “You welcome the new manager like you welcomed me. You go all in from the first day!”

Slot will surely arrive to a spine-tingling rendition of his chant when he walks out to Anfield

Pre-written chants for new managers and players alike are relatively commonplace, but to have one specially crafted by the departing manager of Klopp’s stature, is a rare right indeed. It was a touch of class from the German and the incoming Slot will surely arrive to a spine-tingling rendition of his chant when he walks out to Anfield for the first time.

Klopp proceeded to give a poignant profession to the Anfield faithful before rounding off his speech. “I am one of you now. I love you to bits.” “On my jumper is Thank you, Luv and I will Never Walk Alone Again. Thank you for that, you are the best people in the world. Thank you!”

Personal goodbyes to the Liverpool boss managed to break even the most hardened professionals

The conclusion of his speech was met with rapturous applause, singing and more than a few teary eyes from Liverpool fans at the ground and all around the world. For the final time, Klopp marched to the Kop End to deliver his customary fist pumps before doing the same toward all ends of the ground. To say it was an emotional day on Merseyside is a massive understatement, as personal goodbyes to the Liverpool boss managed to break even the most hardened professionals.

Shortly after full-time, captain Virgil van Dijk was on the verge of tears as he shared a long embrace with Klopp. The face of Trent Alexander-Arnold, raw with emotion, is one that painted a thousand words. It was Klopp who handed the right-back his debut in October 2016, making the German the only manager Alexander-Arnold has played under at club level. To imagine a reality without him was simply too much to bear for the home-grown talent, one that many Reds could empathise with.

What initially became a source of ridicule for rival fans […] eventually forged an unbreakable bond

How fitting that the denouement of Jurgen Klopp’s farewell involved a final rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, as the players and staff linked arms one last time in front of an adoring Kop. What initially became a source of ridicule for rival fans, following a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion a few months into Klopp’s reign, eventually forged an unbreakable bond between both fans and manager.

As the curtain began to fall on Klopp’s glittering time at Anfield, red shirts slowly filtered out of the stadium, unwilling but forced to accept this unfamiliar reality.  

Both Liverpool and the Premier League had lost one of their best managers of the 21st century and while it was a day of sadness, it was also one of celebration and most importantly, gratitude. Jurgen Klopp rebuilt Liverpool Football Club and departs from a squad destined to repeat the successes he enjoyed throughout his time on Merseyside. He leaves having achieved everything he set out to, creating memories that will last a lifetime for millions of Reds.

Danke Jurgen.

Vinay Patel

Featured image courtesy of Fleur via Unsplash. Image use license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In article image 1 courtesy of @thisisanfield via X. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @liverpoolfc via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 3 courtesy of @theredmentv via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 4 courtesy of @liverpoolfc via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 5 courtesy of @liverpoolfc via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

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