Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been urged to revamp his squad after they were dismantled, at home, by Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Real Madrid.
Jurgen Klopp is facing up to the very real prospect that his historic Liverpool team has reached the end of its cycle.
The Reds’ humbling 5-2 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid has put their need for a rebuild front and centre. Less than a year ago, Klopp’s charges were on the cusp of an unprecedented quadruple, winning both domestic cups, reaching the Champions League final and taking the race for the Premier League title to the last day.
However, the Anfield thrashing has now been signalled as “the end of an era”, with the Kop boss urged to reinvent his playing squad. Jamie Carragher and Thierry Henry both suggested that the current crop of underperforming players are no longer able to play ‘Jurgen Klopp football’ to the levels they once could.
Carragher insisted that Liverpool needed to invest not only in midfield players, but also in a back four which has become positively porous in recent months. But the need for investment in the squad comes amidst a backdrop of uncertainty at the boardroom level.
The club’s owners Fenway Sports Group declared last year that they were on the lookout for new investment, with many construing that as the club being put up for sale. John W Henry has now clarified the situation, insisting a full takeover is not on the horizon and that instead they are looking for outside investors to help finance the running of the Premier League giants.
FSG have been criticised in some quarters for what is seen as a lack of financial firepower compared to their rivals at the top of European football. In the last five years, Liverpool’s net spend stands at £254million, in comparison to Chelsea and Manchester United’s spends of £654m and £540m respectively.
Klopp has often defended FSG’s approach to spending, but recently admitted that they would need to put hands in pockets to ensure they can keep up with their rivals.
“I believe in coaching, I believe in developing, I believe in team-building and using those things 100%, but meanwhile in the world out there the managers are really good, there are so many good managers out there it’s crazy,” Klopp said last month. “So they believe in that as well, and if they start really properly spending and do those things as well, then you cannot not spend or you will have a little bit of a problem.”
The task for Klopp is now eerily reminiscent of the one in which he was presented upon his arrival on Merseyside. Back in 2015, The German inherited a team which had reached its peak and was now hurtling downhill.
Rather than the eighth place they currently find themselves in, the Reds were actually 10th and the need for new players was as clear then, as it is now. And Klopp revealed that FSG sent him a text message in those early days, apologising for the state of the squad he was initially given.
At the beginning I received a message from the US saying, ‘Sorry for the squad we’ve given you’,” Klopp revealed in 2021. “But all was good I replied, it just needs time.”
The American ownership proved that apology wasn’t an empty gesture by backing Klopp to build a squad which ultimately conquered world football. But that patience, understanding and backing again is now needed again, as they begin another cycle under the charismatic head coach.
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Something needs to change. I don’t think Klopp needs to go, but some of the players don’t have the level anymore to play for Liverpool. I think it’s the end of an era and it’s been like that this season,” Henry told CBS Sports.
Kop legend Carragher added: “My point is that they’re trying to play Jurgen Klopp football without players who can play Jurgen Klopp football. And that is maybe some players who have been brought in, but also some players who it’s just come to the end.
“I would never criticise those players, because they’ve done their job over the last four or five years. As Thierry said, this team has come to an end. Jurgen Klopp built a team and what we saw over the next four of five years was amazing. He needs to be allowed to do that again.”