There was a seemingly throwaway moment before Jurgen Klopp’s Villarreal press conference that strikes a warmer note now he’s staying for another four years.
‘Hi guys, we’ve got Jordan Henderson, our captain, to come after Jurgen,’ Liverpool’s media officer said as Klopp was taking his seat in front of the press.
‘Juuuurgen,’ Klopp retorted, in his best scouse impression, prompting a chuckle from the gathering journalists and the Liverpool manager’s trademark beaming grin.
‘That’s pretty good,’ one reporter said. ‘Getting there!’ Klopp shrugged in agreement.
Now Klopp has agree to stay at Liverpool past his current deal, until 2026 in fact, then his scouse accent will be nailed down whenever he does decide to call it a day.
His team right now might just be the best Anfield has ever seen. And with four more years, the question must be posed: could he become the best manager Liverpool have ever had?
Jurgen Klopp signed a two-year contract extension at Liverpool, keeping him there until 2026
His Liverpool squad are in pursuit of winning an unprecedented quadruple this season
It’s almost a daunting question to consider, given the esteem Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Sir Kenny Dalglish are held in.
Right now, Liverpool are pursuing an unprecedented quadruple under Klopp. If he pulls it off then for some, that in itself will be enough to crown Klopp the King of Kop Kings.
Shankly once said he wanted to build a team that was so good ‘they’d have to send a team from bloody Mars to beat us.’ This Liverpool side aren’t far off being that good.
And yet they could still end the year with just a League Cup. There is an argument that all this hype around Liverpool suits Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, allowing them to sneak a bit more under the radar as they chase their own Premier League and Champions League double.
Jamie Carragher is right when he says that for how good this Liverpool team are, they haven’t won enough under Klopp just yet. Four in a season would be a truly phenomenal achievement but any manager worth their stripes will measure greatness by the long-term and Klopp is demonstrably no different.
He has already taken great steps to ensure Liverpool can function at the forefront of football long beyond his time as manager. It was a bold, but correct, decision to move the first team away from the historic Melwood base and into the plush new surroundings at Kirkby, where the first team are situated alongside the academy.
‘I really love Melwood but football changes,’ Klopp said. ‘We can’t stay like we always were. Sometimes you have to set the standards. Twenty five years ago Melwood set the level. In those 25 years a lot of things happened.
‘It’s fantastic but we have no space for anything. If we want to have one more office, we don’t know where to go. That’s the situation. Staying here for the next 25 years wouldn’t be good for the club.’
Parallels can be drawn with that move and Shankly pushing to modernise Anfield and whip Melwood – what he described as ‘a wilderness’ when he became manager – into shape.
The legendary Reds manager Bill Shankly spoke of building a side so strong ‘they’d have to send a team from Mars to beat us’ – at times under Klopp, it has almost felt like a reality
One remark about Klopp’s reign so far is that Liverpool haven’t won as many trophies as they should have for their dominance – a new contract is a chance to put that right
Klopp has overseen some big moves off the pitch at Liverpool – such as the choice to leave the historic Melwood training ground and base the first team at Kirkby (pictured)
Furthermore, Klopp has already taken significant steps to usher in a new era in the current Liverpool team. Easy examples of this can be made with the likes of Ibrahima Konata (22), Trent Alexander-Arnold (23) and but deeper in the squad, young talents are coming up from behind.
Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Caoimhin Kelleher have made inroads in the last 18 months, as have Kaide Gordon, Tyler Morton and Conor Bradley. The signing of 16-year-old winger Ben Doak from Celtic – who had already played for their first team – is a signal of this, as is the impending swoop for exciting 19-year-old attacker at Fulham, Fabio Carvalho.
Right now the past, present and future exist in harmony at Klopp’s Liverpool but big decisions will need to be made in the coming 18 months.
Mohamed Salah still hasn’t signed a new contract – a situation that will undoubtedly be watched with interest by other key men such as Sadio Mane, whose own deal is up in 2023. Loyal servants such as Roberto Firmino and James Milner are not the regulars they once were.
Liverpool will recruit this summer from a position of strength, whatever happens between now and the end of the season. Is there a single player in world football that wouldn’t want to play for this team now, under this manager, especially now he’s committed?
Furthermore, it cannot be ignored that Guardiola has previously suggested his City departure is in the not-too-distant future. As it stands, his deal ends next year. A U-turn should not be ruled out, as Klopp’s situation shows, but his six years at City is already double what he served at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Big decisions will made at Liverpool across the next 18 months – one key issue is Mohamed Salah’s contract, with terms yet to be agreed on a new deal
Loyal servants like James Milner, for example, are not the first-team regulars they once were
Players such as Harvey Elliott, at just 18, show how Klopp has been planning Liverpool’s future
If he steps aside, it’ll only help Klopp and Liverpool but they have nothing to fear from Pep staying longer.
They have lost only four times in their last 67 games in all competitions across two seasons, stretching back to last March. To put that into context, Bob Paisley’s 1977 team that won Liverpool’s first European Cup – considered by most fans to be the best ever Liverpool side up to now – lost eight times en route to winning the league that season.
If Klopp delivers the trophies to match that dominance, he will go down as the best manager Liverpool have ever had. A statue outside the Kop, near Shankly, would inevitably follow.