Today’s big football news in Europe represents the prelude to the ending of an era...
Joachim Low (61), the German national team coach since succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006 is to step down after the 2020 (1 year delayed) European Championships this summer.
And it could mean the beginning of a managerial merry-go-round of sorts involving a couple of notable British clubs.
It is certain to alert Jurgen Klopp who’s never made any secret of the fact that managing his country’s national team one day, is a professional ambition.
And of course should Klopp depart to manage his national team, there’s one really obvious candidate to replace him in the Anfield hot-seat... Steven Gerrard.
Perhaps helped a little by this season’s underperforming Celtic, Gerrard has still worked wonders in three seasons at Rangers. His professionalism, burning desire to win and matter of fact, cool and competent approach has impressed all observers. Every quality he possessed as a player has been replicated in Gerrard, the manager.
It promises to be an anxious next few months for Rangers fans, elated at their first title in ten long years, but Liverpool surely will not look past their former captain should Klopp move on.
But will he?
Were Liverpool still in the title race or at least made a better fist of defending their title, I think the prospects of Klopp’s departure would be greater. He would be leaving on a high.
But results since the turn of the year have been so miserable, relegation form in fact, this season threatens to undermine all the great many positives the German has brought to Anfield. That last statement ignores balance of course, but like it or not there is a tendency by football fans to remember the most recent results. These days, everything is about the here and now.
He really won’t want to leave Anfield on a low.
But will he even want to leave Anfield at all? He’s become so ingrained by the fabric of the club, immersing himself in all things Liverpool, just as Ferguson was at Manchester United and Wenger with Arsenal.
If his over-riding ambition is to manage Die Mannschaft, then from a German perspective there’s no time like the present. He is almost certainly the #1 candidate, and Klopp himself will know that Germany does not change national team coaches too often.
The Germans have only ever had ten head coaches in history, with the average tenure being 9.5 years (although Sepp Herberger’s incumbency of 28 years, straddling WW2, somewhat distorts the numbers). Only Erich Ribbeck and Jurgen Klinsmann (each just under two years) have led the national team for a period of less than four years.
Klopp is now 53. If he has to wait four or five years for the opportunity to circle round again it’s likely to be too late. Before the mid-80’s when Germany appointed Beckenbauer, this may not have been a concern, DFB chiefs tending to go with older, more experienced coaches like Herrberger, Schoen or Derwall, who when appointed was actually younger than Klopp is now.
Since then, with the exception of the unsuccessful Ribbeck, they’ve plumped for former players in their late thirties or forties.
If Klopp is offered the role, he has a huge decision to make. If indeed he retains the ambition of managing his country, then it’s simple. He must go. It’s now or never.
I believe should the DFB ask Klopp to succeed Low, his answer will be in the affirmative. Then Liverpool will poach their former captain back from Rangers, who must already be vastly concerned at this morning’s news.
Now that they’ve become top dogs in Scotland again they’ll not want to lose their talismanic manager so soon. But I’d be surprised if already they’re not considering Gerrard’s successor.
Check out the latest The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 18). Recorded last Wednesday evening the TBIR team discuss the general state of CF Montreal in the wake of Thierry Henry’s departure and recent Re-branding/Renaming...
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