Klopp to step down as Liverpool manager at end of season
MANCHESTER, England — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp took a deep breath and stared into the camera before saying the words that shocked the world of soccer on Friday.
“I will leave the club at the end of the season,” Klopp said in a pre-recorded interview with club media. “It is not what I want to (do), it is just what I think is 100% right.”
Klopp, who has won the English Premier League and Champions League in a trophy-laden spell at Anfield, said he was “running out of energy” after more than eight years in charge.
“I am like a proper sports car. Not the best one, but a pretty good one. I can still drive 160, 170, 180 miles per hour, but I am the only one who sees the tank needle is going down. The outside world doesn’t see that. That’s good. So you go as long as you have to go, but then you need a break.”
The 56-year-old German said he told Liverpool of his decision in November and he would wait at least a year before considering another job in management. He also ruled out joining a Premier League rival.
“What I know definitely, I will never, ever manage a different club in England than Liverpool, 100%,” he said. "That’s not possible. My love for this club, my respect for the people is too big.
“Of course, I know myself, I cannot just sit around. I will find something else maybe to do. But I will not manage a club or a country at least for a year, that’s not possible, I cannot do that and I don’t want to.”
Klopp's status as a Liverpool icon is secure after returning the club to the summit of European soccer and ending its 30-year wait for an English league title in 2020.
His decision comes as a surprise considering his recently rebuilt team leads the league and has advanced to the English League Cup final where it will play Chelsea.
Liverpool is also still in contention for the FA Cup and Europa League after ending last season trophyless and failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Klopp described that campaign as “super difficult” and spoke of his determination to rebuild.
“For me it was super, super, super important that I can help to bring this team back onto the rails. It was all I was thinking about. When I realized pretty early that happened, it’s a really good team with massive potential and a super age group, super characters and all that, then I could start thinking about myself again and that was the outcome.”
Klopp had already built up a reputation as a proven winner before joining Liverpool by leading Borussia Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012.
With Liverpool he's won seven trophies, and in 2022 was in contention for an unprecedented quadruple after winning the League Cup and FA Cup. His team missed out on the Premier League title on the final day of the season and was beaten by Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League.
He is on the trophy hunt again and said he didn't want his announcement to distract from his targets.
“Let's now really go for it,” he said. "The outside world want to use that — this decision — to laugh about it, blah, blah, blah. Want to disturb us. We are Liverpool.
“Let's make a strength of it. That would be cool. Let's squeeze everything out of this season and have another thing to smile about when we look back in the future.”
Liverpool did not put a timeframe on recruiting a new manager and Klopp said he would play no part in identifying his successor.
"The last thing they need is advice from the old man walking out and telling them, ‘By the way, make sure you take or bring him in’ or whatever, and I will definitely not do that.”
Former Liverpool player and current Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso was quickly linked with the job.
“What Jurgen has done at Liverpool, I have great respect, great admiration for him . . . but my focus is here at Bayer Leverkusen,” Alonso said.
Liverpool confirmed Klopp's assistant managers, Pepijn Lijnders and Peter Krawietz, and elite development coach Vitor Matos, will also leave at the end of the season.
It was also announced sporting director Jorg Schmadtke will depart at the end of the January transfer window.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer