Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists even an unprecedented quadruple could not convince him to backtrack on his shock decision to quit at the end of the season.
The German stunned the footballing world by announcing he will depart at the end of the campaign with two years of his contract still to run, having already communicated his plans to owners Fenway Sports Group in November.
What made the news so surprising is that the club are arguably close to being back to the peak of their powers, with a five-point lead in the Premier League and a Carabao Cup final to come next month, while they have qualified for the last 16 of the Europa League and are one of the favourites for the FA Cup.
But, unlike Sir Alex Ferguson, who in the summer of 2001 announced his retirement only to backtrack at the end of the season, Klopp will not be moved from his stance, whether his team win it all or finish empty-handed.
“No! Alex Ferguson did that? I respect Alex a lot and I don’t know what drove him,” said the 56-year-old, unaware of the former Manchester United manager’s U-turn.
“I really thought a lot about it and because of our relationship – mine with the club – the situation is always clear.
“I have to make the decision at one point, because nobody else will, because of the trust and respect we have for each other and the owners knew I would take the decision.
“I don’t want to hang around and do the job somehow. I thought it through properly.
“I want everything this season, but it wouldn’t change my mind – and if we don’t win anything it wouldn’t change my mind.
“It’s a decision I made independent of any kind of results.”
Jürgen Klopp has announced his decision to step down as #LFC manager at the end of the season, having informed the club’s ownership of his wish to leave his position in the summer.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 26, 2024
Klopp has cited his waning energy to lift himself for the daily demands placed on him as the reason why he is calling it a day.
After finishing fifth the previous season, during which Klopp looked physically and emotionally drained, the Liverpool manager returned after the summer insisting he was re-energised and refreshed.
But as soon as plans started to be made for transfer targets and the next pre-season the German knew something was not right.
“My managerial skills are based on energy and emotion and that takes all of you and needs all of you. I am who I am and where I am because of how I am, with all the good and bad things, and if I cannot do it any more, stop it,” he said.
“You have to be the best version of yourself, especially for a club like Liverpool. I cannot do it on three wheels, it is not allowed, and I have never wanted to be a passenger.
“It was not my idea (to quit prematurely) when I signed a new contract, I was 100 percent convinced we would go until 2026.
“I under-estimated or judged it wrong because I thought my energy level was endless because it always was – and now it is not. Then we have to change.”
Klopp plans to take a year off and then see how he feels but has ruled out a return to management in England.
“Whatever will happen in the future I don’t know now, but no club, no country, for the next year, and no other English club ever,” he said.
“I can promise that, even if I have nothing to eat that will not happen.
Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso has emerged as the early favourite to succeed Klopp, although another former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, currently at Al-Ettifaq, has also been linked.
Alonso insisted on Friday his focus was solely on his current role and that he was in “the right place”.