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28 February 2024

Why would Jürgen Klopp leave Liverpool? Let me count the (made up) ways

His decision to leave was so sudden, something must have tipped him over the edge.

By Hunter Davies

So why has Jürgen Klopp packed it in ? I know he has said he is knackered, exhausted, wants a rest, wants a break.

But don’t we all, eh, pet?

The clever-clogs back-page journalists have taken him at his word and failed to suggest any other reasons, even fake reasons. And yet he handed his notice in so many months ahead of the end of the season – surely aware of the damage it would cause at Liverpool, unsettling the club, the team. Already, some players have gone off the boil. They are worried about the future, having so long to fret about which bastard might be the next manager – will he keep me on the bench, demote me, sell me? Should I tell my agent to put me in for a transfer now?

It was so sudden, something must have tipped him over the edge. Don’t you think?

So, let me count the things that might have happened behind the scenes, in his mind or in his life, which could be behind his desire to leave.

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1. Cherchez la femme. His wife, Ulla, is fed up with the attention and noise of Liverpool and is desperate to get back to the peace and quiet of her homeland, to the magic of Mainz or the delights of Dortmund, in order to get down to some undisturbed writing. She is a children’s author.

2. His daughter Klippety is fed up with the boring lumpen Liverpool lads and wants to meet some fit German hunks in their lederhosen. (OK, he does not have a daughter called Klippety – that is an excellent and very old Ken Dodd joke which I try to work in once a year.)

3. The gegenpressing style that he has followed in Germany and at Liverpool, with all that heavy-metal pounding up and down, has taken a toll. It involves so much energy and enthusiasm, shouting and swearing, on the touchline and in training. His heart and body can’t stand it any more, and his doctor may have told him as much.

4. Someone in the club or his staff or the team or the street has really, really pissed him off. He can’t stand them any more. No matter who you are, it can take just one annoying person to upset you. Just looking at them each day can make you feel sick.

5. He has had a fab offer from German TV to be a pundit. He has already won praise and awards for his performance as an analyst back in Germany. If Gary Lineker can do it, and be a household name and a millionaire, so can he. Lineker didn’t even go to uni.

6. Yes, Jürgen went to Goethe University in Frankfurt. He now fancies going back and studying something nice and gentle, like art history, Roman Germany, or the Beatles’ Hamburg years.

7. He is going to Barcelona. They have tapped him up. But keep it to yourselves for the moment…

8. A referee he traumatised some time ago in Germany is now threatening to sue him. This, or some other piddling incident in his history has come back to haunt him, now that he is so rich and loved and famous.

9. He fears, deep down, that at 56 his powers are waning and the constant grind is getting to him: having to create yet another team, find new players, be tough and unkind to the fading old stars he loved, screaming at the slackers and the hard of understanding, and oh, mein Gott, the travelling, the planes and coaches. There are so many games, at stupid times, stupid places, not to mention idiot refs and the effing awful VAR, and now effing blue cards and sin bins are coming in…

10. So he decided to leave. But privately, in his head, just for one year, to have a lie down. He can’t give up football for good, after all these decades and enormous success, winning everything at Dortmund and Liverpool. He knows that the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the embrocation, the banter of the dressing room, the cheers of the fans, the boos of the away crowd, will draw him back. He will miss it so much. As we will miss him…

[See also: A requiem for Jürgen Klopp]

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This article appears in the 28 Feb 2024 issue of the New Statesman, The QE Theory of Everything

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