Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool may have just done Arne Slot a big favor at Everton

Liverpool's German manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the fans following the English Premier League football match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on April 24, 2024.
Jürgen Klopp suffered defeat in his final Merseyside derby, denting Liverpool's title hopes severely in the process. -Credit:PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Perhaps Liverpool has been running on the emotion of Jürgen Klopp's impending departure for that little bit too long. Announced in January, it guided the Reds through a major injury crisis to victory at Wembley, but five months is a long way to go on a single tank of even the most powerful fuel.

In the last few weeks, cracks that had been papered over have been revealed again, while entirely new ones have appeared too. The defensive frailty of last season has come back to haunt Klopp, with clean sheets a distant memory, and the finishing woes are worse than ever, with confidence at a low ebb.

That all came to a head against Everton, the one game where Liverpool really didn't want to throw away its title bid, having already given a woeful Manchester United side similar satisfaction. Conceding a sloppy goal and rarely threatening to get back into it, with Mohamed Salah, Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez all guilty of missing good chances, Klopp's drained side suffered a damaging defeat.

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Liverpool can at least try to win its final four fixtures and see where that takes it, but Manchester City and Arsenal would both now need to drop points twice. Klopp's fairytale ending looks out of reach.

Before kick-off, much of the talk was about Arne Slot. The Feyenoord manager has been installed as the club's favored candidate to take over from Klopp, and it's expected that progress could be rapid.

If Slot was watching, he may have been a little underwhelmed by the team he might be taking over. There was talk of a quadruple just a couple of months ago, and the Feyenoord manager might be wondering how on earth he can live up to those standards, with the squad seemingly just that slight level below the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City.

But in a way, Klopp has just done him a favor. Imagine for a moment that he had bowed out with a quadruple, or even just another Premier League title to his name. He'd be passing on a poisoned chalice akin to the one Sir Alex Ferguson left behind.

That Manchester United side was held together by little more than Ferguson witchcraft by the end, and David Moyes was doomed from the start. Klopp's recent downturn is a reality check: nobody will be expecting miracles from Slot (or whoever is hired), with Liverpool quite clearly still a work in progress.

It doesn't make defeat to Everton any easier to stomach, particularly in the title context. But it's a reminder that this is much the same team which did not even make the Champions League places last season, and that those signed to fix things have not even had a whole season to settle in yet. This young squad is still just setting out on its journey.

In that sense, then, Klopp has done Slot a favor. Taking over from a bona fide club legend at Liverpool was never going to be an easy job, but this latest run of results at least means it might not be a completely impossible job.