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Other SportsKlopp leaving Liverpool: Alonso the 'natural heir', says Carragher

Klopp leaving Liverpool: Alonso the ‘natural heir’, says Carragher

Jamie Carragher believes outgoing Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was born to manage the Reds, and he has a similar feeling about his potential successor Xabi Alonso.

Klopp announced on Friday that he will call time on his glittering stint with Liverpool at the end of the season, having led the Reds to seven major trophies in just over eight years at the helm.

With Liverpool now preparing to replace one of the most successful managers in their illustrious history, attention has already turned to the contenders to take Klopp’s place in the Anfield dugout.

Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso – who lined up alongside Carragher as Liverpool won the Champions League under Rafa Benitez in 2005 – has been touted as the early favourite after overseeing Die Werkself’s surprise Bundesliga title tilt.

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Writing in The Telegraph on Friday, Carragher hailed Klopp as the perfect fit for the club and said he had the same feeling about Alonso during the Spaniard’s playing career.

“Finding the right man to lead Liverpool is as tough as it gets at any time. Replacing Klopp? All the best with that,” he said.

“Fenway Sports Group (FSG) must embark on their search knowing that all his backroom staff are leaving with him, and the sporting director Jorg Schmadtke will be departing soon too. That is too much of a radical overhaul in a short period.

“FSG also know that the requirements of a Liverpool manager are unique. Klopp is more than a coach. At most clubs, the managers are passing through. If you ask supporters if they would prefer to keep their coach or star players, they’re more likely to say the players.

“Ask Liverpool fans if they’d rather Klopp was staying and the club was selling Mohamed Salah, and they would unanimously thank the footballer and wish him well in the future.

“Like [Bill] Shankly and [Kenny] Dalglish, Klopp had that instant rapport with the Merseyside public. His core social values chime with them as much as his footballing philosophy.

“Klopp never had to learn how to connect with the Kop. It was like he was born to be the Liverpool manager.

“That’s one of the reasons why Xabi Alonso is already being considered the natural heir. From day one, it was like Xabi was born to be a Liverpool player.

“As he is my former team-mate, it is no surprise that so many are clamouring for him to be appointed. I would love Xabi to get the chance.”

The only major blot on Klopp’s record with Liverpool was a disappointing 2022-23 campaign, which saw the Reds limp to a fifth-place Premier League finish and ushered in an overhaul of their ageing squad last summer.

Carragher believes that season took a toll on the German, saying: “It is difficult to shake the idea that those unhappy 12 months have led us to this point.

“We like to think of these legendary managers as superhuman. They are not. It must have sapped him of his energy to the point where he can feel the tank emptying.

“There were times after some poor Liverpool performances last season when I wondered how much longer Klopp would go on – if he had the motivation to start again and rebuild a new team, infusing his ideas on the next generation.

“The team’s form since the start of this season removed those concerns. That makes the timing now so shocking.

“Having put the foundations in place, why hand it over to someone else, especially a coach who may have a different vision or be unable to forge the same strong personal relationships with the leaders in the squad? It is a monumental decision to let go now.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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