Jurgen Klopp’s future even being a talking point in 2021 shows the extent of Liverpool’s struggles in recent months.
With a Champions League and Premier League title in the trophy cabinet, the charismatic German has more credit in the bank than almost any manager in the game.
But six home defeats in a row, a title defence that has descended into a nightmare and a tricky looking battle to finish in the top four has led to Klopp facing an ounce of pressure for the first time on Merseyside.
And when his name was listed as a potential replacement for Germany manager Joachim Low, the Reds boss was forced to address speculation about his future.
“Am I available for the job of the national team in the summer? No,” said Klopp. “After the summer, no.”
Signed up until 2024, Klopp has confirmed that he intends to at least see out that deal, before even considering a change of scenery.
“I said no, this or after this summer, whatever it may be, I will not be available as a potential Germany team coach.
“I have three years left at Liverpool. It’s a simple statement. You sign a contract and you try to stick to that contract, don’t you?”
So with at least three years left in the dugout, here are some of the issues that he will need to put right to ensure his side can get back on track.
1. Rediscovering home comforts
Less than two months ago, any travelling team making the trip to Anfield did so with hope rather than expectation.
For 68 games, opponents had come and gone without getting three points for their troubles.
That’s all changed now with six defeats on the spin – a club record – meaning home comforts have become anything but.
A lack of fans haven’t helped, but either way Klopp and his side need to rebuild that aura of invincibility in their own stadium…and quickly.
2. Talks with FSG
The silence from Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group has been deafening in recent months.
FSG were reluctant to do big business in Janaury, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and football behind closed doors still being felt.
Klopp was sympathetic with that approach in the most recent window, suggesting he empathised with their position.
However, with the likes of Man City and Manchester United set to be active, the champions will need to be the same in order to keep apace.
If the owners continue with their low media profile, there must be big talks in the corridors of Anfield.
3. Sort the Wijnaldum situation
One way or another, Klopp needs to establish whether Georgino Wijnaldum is a player who will be in his plans in the long run.
The Dutchman is out of contract at the end of the season and thus far, talks haven’t progressed to a stage where he will sign a new deal.
Wijnaldum has sowed the seeds for a potential departure, meaning Klopp could be tempted to look at more long-term options and start to build chemistry between those.
Unfortunately, he remains one of Liverpool’s most consistent players and simply bringing him out of the line-up doesn’t seem a viable option at this point.
Either way, Klopp needs to make a decision and stick with it, for the good of his next three years with the club.
4. Sign a central defender
Déjà vu anyone?
The Reds spent the entirety of the January window ‘umming and ahhing’ over whether to bring a new centre-back to the club.
Injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have derailed this season, with countless combinations tried throughout the season.
Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak were signed on deadline day, but the former has yet to make an impact, while there is no guarantee Kabak’s move will become permanent this summer.
Whatever happens, Liverpool can’t go into another season where they are relying on Joel Matip being fit and available for 38 games.
5. Follow Fergie’s plan
Sir Alex Ferguson preached that the life span of any top team was around three seasons. By the time that third campaign was underway, plans were already in place to revamp his United sides.
Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have been together since 2017 and there are signs that their effectiveness is waning.
This summer may be the one to start building a new Liverpool side and that refresh could involve allowing high-profile players to leaves.
Unpopular decisions may need to be made.
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