I was a little surprised by Liverpool’s decision to sack Brendan Rodgers but, as the dust begins to settle and the club prepare to appoint his replacement, he can harbour few complaints.
None of the numbers show his reign in a very flattering light. Yes, he had to contend with the unavoidable loss of start player Luis Suarez last year, while the summer departure of long-serving captain Steven Gerrard, who wanted to be a regular starter, didn’t help either.
But Rodgers had the resources to bring in good players. For the last season or so they have always looked disjointed, with individuals under-performing. A good team is supposed to be greater than the sum of its parts, and his Liverpool side simply wasn’t.
Ultimately, Anfield chiefs know they need to be in the top four, or at worst fifth, and if the manager is not delivering that then he is open to huge criticism and pressure.
Now is a good time to change. The international break gives clubs extra time to adjust, and there happen to be some very good candidates of global standing available.
Carlo Ancelotti is among them but he doesn’t seem the right profile – like Rafael Benitez, he’s a manager who specialises in fine-tuning teams that are already successful – so I’d be amazed if Liverpool hired anyone other than Jurgen Klopp.
I like a lot of things about Klopp, the former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz coach. His enthusiasm is contagious and will help bring the best out of players, and he proved very good at creating a cohesive group during his seven years at Dortmund.
He also achieved real success, winning the Bundesliga twice and taking Dortmund to the Champions League final. During his peak he established the club as equal to Bayern Munich – a huge achievement.
Klopp has had the rest he wanted at the end of last season and I think he’s always fancied a position in England. In many ways Liverpool are like Dortmund – not in their history or worldwide fame, but the job that needs doing is similar to that which he did there.
Other clubs may have coveted Klopp too but as much as he is right for Liverpool, I think they are the right fit for him too. Although they are not currently gelling as a squad, it’s an attractive challenge.
I think the Premier League title might be beyond them this season, even if they are only six points off leaders Manchester City. I’m just not sure they have the quality of players needed, but if Klopp can steer them back into the top four that would be a good achievement and the big turnaround in fortunes that Liverpool need.
Sunderland are the other top-flight team seeking a new boss, and they needn’t look any further than Sam Allardyce. Fans won’t mind that he’s previously managed rivals Newcastle, nobody else has the same firefighting pedigree. They should get him in as quickly as possible.