It was recently announced that Jurgen Klopp will step down as manager of Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season, after an up-and-down 7 years in charge. Taking over at a time when the Bundesliga club were somewhat of a sleeping giant, Klopp undoubtedly brought success back to the Signal Iduna Park. Among his trophy haul were two Bundesliga titles, one DFB Pokal and one DFL Supercup. Klopp even came close to repeating the success of Ottmar Hitzfeld’s famous Champions League winning Dortmund side of 1997, only to be defeated by ever-present rivals Bayern Munich in the final in 2013.
It tuned sour, however, in the last year for Klopp and co. Dortmund spent much of the first half of the season struggling for wins, spending the Christmas break moored at the foot of the table and facing the very real threat of relegation. Despite this precarious six month spell, however, Klopp turned it round and will leave Dortmund safe in the bosom of the Bundesliga, if not quite in the league challenging position he has had them in in recent seasons.
It’s because of his impressive trophy haul, rather than the problems of this last season, that Klopp enjoys somewhat high stock in the European game at present, resulting in one question – where will he go next? A man with the managerial CV of the former Mainz 05 player should have the pick of available jobs this summer – but the debate on where he will end up has, for me, taken a somewhat sinister turn.
Klopp has made no secret of his desire to manage in the Premier League, having stated in an interview with BT Sport in November 2014, “It’s the only country, I think, where I should work, really, next to Germany, because it’s the only country I know the language a little bit and I need the language for my work,”. Conclusive proof, it seems, that Klopp would welcome the offer of a job in England’s top flight.
Where there appears to be an issue, that few appear to have appreciated until now, is the fact that there aren’t actually any jobs going in the Premier League at the moment. Let’s assume Newcastle Utd and West Ham want new managers in the summer, with John Carver hardly pulling up trees on Tyneside and Sam Allerdyce’s relationship with the Hammers’ owners and fans growing more strained by the day. It’s unlikely Klopp would want to take what he would, undoubtedly, see as a step down to manage either of the clubs. Rumour has it West Ham have already approached Klopp about the job, with the German confirming he has no interest in a move to east London.
So, with Newcastle and West Ham ruled out of the hypothetical race, who does that leave? These two clubs actually serve a purpose in terms of arguing where Klopp might end up in England – outside of the top six, you won’t really find bigger clubs in terms of reputation than West Ham and Newcastle. This must mean only a top six job would suit for Klopp. By the top six, I of course mean Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and (probably) Tottenham Hotspur. But really, all but two of those clubs are unlikely to need or even want Klopp. Chelsea are close to securing yet another title under Mourinho. He’s going nowhere. Manchester United appear to be finding their feet under their Dutch master, so it’s unlikely Van Gaal will be moving on soon. Arsenal have ended the season strongly with the possibility of an FA Cup in the offing, buying Wenger at least another season, you would think. And in north London, Pochettino is building an exciting young side for Tottenham, suggesting he could be there for years yet.
As I said, this narrows Klopp’s possible destinations down to two – Manchester City and Liverpool. Manuel Pellegrini’s coat is on a shaky peg at the Etihad but City doesn’t seem a good fit for Klopp. A man who has built success on close relationships with players and staff, he’s unlikely to be happy with the merry-go-round that can be the buying and selling of players at City. Furthermore, they are an ageing team who some see entering a time of transition in the coming seasons – does Klopp really want to wade into that? I don’t think so. As for Liverpool, sure, Brendan Rodgers has had a poor season in comparison to his first two in Merseyside, but the fact remains he has done good work at Anfield and deserves time to continue this work, at least for one more year.
As I said, though, all of this talk really is irrelevant and has left me somewhat uncomfortable in recent weeks. It smacks of mass media involvement in today’s game, that papers and presenters are touting a man for jobs that don’t even exist. Furthermore, it really is disrespectful to managers still in post to speculate in such a manner. Of course I’m aware this is just the nature of the world of football – but it doesn’t make it right. Speculate all you want about who the next manager at a club will be, but don’t speculate who the next club will be for a manager. Klopp will undoubtedly end up in England at some stage – but not before those there already get their fair shot.