Graeme Souness says he understands Jurgen Klopp’s decision to leave Liverpool in the summer given the intensity of the job, but has questioned the ‘strange’ timing of the announcement midway through the season.
Klopp sent shockwaves around the footballing world this morning as he announced in a video message on Liverpool’s official website that he would be concluding his nine-year tenure at Anfield at the end of the campaign.
The 56-year-old has won six major trophies since arriving on Merseyside in 2015, including the Premier League and the Champions League, and the club currently five themselves at the top of the English top flight with a five-point lead over Manchester City.
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Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso is the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Klopp in the hot seat after a phenomenal start to his managerial career at Bayer Leverkusen, while the likes of Roberto De Zerbi, Zinedine Zidane and Julian Nagelsmann are also in the picture.
‘I’m amazed. I just think the demands of that job… it’s one of the best jobs in the world if you can get it right and he’s certainly done that,’ ex-Liverpool captain and manager Souness told talkSPORT while reacting to the news.
‘It would appear after a very difficult season last year, he’s got a team again. But it’s just the toll it takes on the individual.
‘When I look at Jurgen Klopp, he’s such a perfect fit for Liverpool because he’s on it, he’s at it, he’s aggressive, he’s very emotional, he’s confrontational. But that takes a toll. The pressures of being a manager at a big football club are enormous.’
Souness – who managed Liverpool from 1991 to 1994 – said Klopp ‘looks like he’s been beat up’ due to the rigours of the job.
‘He’s done the most remarkable job when you think about how he’s been competing against firstly Chelsea and Manchester United with their spending power and, of course, Manchester City have joined that group,’ Souness added.
‘And he’s won a couple of big trophies, the biggest trophy, and the job he’s done is quite remarkable.
‘When I look at him, I don’t think I’m overstating it but he looks like he’s been beat up, metaphorically. He looks like a man that’s so intense and so on it, he looks like he’s been through the mill.
‘When you work at that football club, it’s such an emotional football club, and that affects you.
‘I’m surprised because I believe he’s got a team that’s got a lot of life going forward and it can only get better. He weathered the storm last year in terms of having an indifferent season.’
The former Scotland midfielder went on: ‘I’m not sure how there’s any benefit in him announcing it now.
‘What’s that going to give other than making it very emotional every time he’s in the dugout at Anfield?
‘I think the fact that all the staff are going, they’ve obviously had more than one meeting about that. That would be impossible to keep quiet.’
Souness rejected claims that the announcement had been made halfway through the season to spur Liverpool’s players on to silverware in the second half of the campaign.
‘I would take that as a criticism if I was a Liverpool player, that I’m going to try harder because my manager is leaving,’ he said.
‘I think I’d give everything no matter if the manager is there for 20 years or 20 minutes. I’m going to do everything for that club.
‘No. That’s my thinking. I think it’s a strange time to announce it now and I’m not quite sure where the benefits are.’