Jurgen Klopp sees history repeat itself after Liverpool shock announcement

An emotional Jurgen Klopp salutes the Borussia Dortmund fans when leaving the club in 2015, and reacts on the sidelines after Liverpool suffer a disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace in 2024
An emotional Jurgen Klopp salutes the Borussia Dortmund fans when leaving the club in 2015, and reacts on the sidelines after Liverpool suffer a disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace in 2024 -Credit:Getty Images

As Jurgen Klopp’s tenure as Liverpool manager nears its end, there are parallels between how his time at Borussia Dortmund unfolded.

The German announced his decision to leave Anfield at the end of the season back in January, declaring that he was ‘running out of energy’.

At a press conference explaining his decision to leave, he said: “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.

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“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 a similar story for Klopp when he announced his decision to step down as Dortmund manager back in April 2015.

“I have always said that the day I feel that I am no longer the perfect coach for this extraordinary club I will say that,” he said. “That is something I have thought about in every phase here at Dortmund and decided in the last few weeks, days, that I was no longer able to be absolutely sure about that.”

No longer feeling 100% capable of doing the job, Klopp is again walking away.

He intends to take a year sabbatical from football when he leaves Liverpool this summer, as was his intention when leaving Dortmund nine years ago. Given the Reds lured the German to Anfield after only a five-month break, only time will tell if the now 56-year-old can again be tempted back into management prematurely.

Of course, there are differences between Dortmund and Liverpool’s fortunes in these final seasons too.

The Reds had been on course for the perfect send-off as they chased a potential quadruple. But a demoralising FA Cup quarter-final exit to Manchester United was followed by surrendering top spot in the league courtesy of a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford and losses to Atalanta and Crystal Palace to leave their Europa League and Premier League hopes hanging by a thread.

While Liverpool beat Chelsea to win the League Cup back in February, they risk Klopp’s final season ending with a whimper as his side run out of steam.

In contrast, Dortmund endured an horrific final campaign under the German prior to him announcing his decision to step down as manager.

General manager Michael Zorc declared the club were in a ‘real crisis’ after losing 2-1 away to newly-promoted Koln in October. Meanwhile, a 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich saw them drop into the relegation zone a few weeks later.

Come February, after an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat to 10-man Augsburg, they were remarkably still sat bottom of the Bundesliga table.

“We kept losing games in the exact same way over and over again,” Peter Krawietz, Klopp’s rusted assistant who followed him from Borussia Dortmund to Liverpool, later recalled in Raphael’s Honigstein’s biography of the German manager, ‘Bring The Noise’.

“Your head is full of questions. Is it your fault? Is it the team’s? What shall we do? It was an extremely s***ty situation. More than anyone could really bear. You don’t wish that kind of spell on your worst enemy. It was unbelievably exhausting, unbelievably depressing.”

And former Dortmund defender Neven Subotic revealed to the Athletic how Klopp had once slapped a player across the face as he tried to turn his side’s flailing fortunes around.

“When you get the feeling as a player that you’ve already achieved something, that you have a bit of experience, you suddenly don’t want to say ‘Yes’ to everything any more,” the Serbian said. “I guess that’s human nature.

“If it was necessary, Klopp upped the volume. He shook us up a bit, to wake us up. Not by saying, ‘You have to play something different, boys, it’ll be tough’.

“No, he went up to a player and slapped him across the face. You think, ‘Oh, he might slap him back’.”

Fortunately for Dortmund, Klopp would turn things around as they won 30 points from their final 45 available to secure a seventh-place finish and qualify for European football against the odds.

Also reaching the DFB-Pokal final, Klopp would also joke that he would have announced his decision to leave much sooner if he had known it would prompt an upturn in Dortmund’s form.

"If I'd known before the start of the season that we'd put such a winning run together, I'd have announced my departure back then!” he joked at the end of the season. “Seventh place feels brilliant!”

In the context of the season, seventh was brilliant. But it did not stop the mixed emotions about his final year as Klopp departed after a cup final loss at the end of a season where Dortmund had failed to reach previous heights.

Plenty has been said about the timing of Klopp’s announcement to leave Liverpool back in January, and the possible impact it has had on his side. While initially they flourished despite a crippling injury crisis, now they have stalled at the business end of the season.

His bombshell decision was made known to club bosses the previous November, with the Reds doing remarkably well to keep it secret for three months. Given the forward-planning needed for the 2024/25 season, it is understandable why such a decision was both made and announced when it was.

But in hindsight, it is easy to suggest that the German perhaps should have kept the decision under his hat for longer and such timing has backfired on Liverpool at the business end of the season. Only Klopp will know just how much of an impact Dortmund’s improved fortunes after his future was known back in 2015 had on the timing of his exit announcement back in January, and whether he was trying to replicate that at Anfield..

Admittedly, Dortmund had already started to climb the season prior to Klopp announcing his exit. A seven-game unbeaten run had seen them rise to 10th in the Bundesliga table, with the German only revealing his decision to step down in mid-April after back-to-back Bundesliga defeats against Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach.

From thereon in, they won six of their last eight matches to clinch Europa League qualification and reach the DFB-Pokal final. It was a triumph considering where Dortmund had found themselves just three months earlier, even if they ultimately fell short in their efforts to win the cup..

But given Dortmund had reached the Champions League final two years earlier and had followed up two Bundesliga titles under Klopp with two second-place finishes, it was still a fall from grace.

Meanwhile, the dream Liverpool ending for their beloved German manager would have been celebrating a treble in five weeks’ time. But even if they are left with only a League Cup to show for their efforts, it is a remarkable turnaround from the campaign the Reds endured last year.

Trophyless and stumbling to a fifth-place finish after challenging for an unprecedented quadruple in 2021/22, the wheels had seemingly come off for a broken Liverpool - like they had for Dortmund back in 2014/15. Suffering relegation in his final season with Mainz also, it appears Klopp has repeatedly encountered proof of the saying, ‘What goes up, most come down.’

This season has perhaps been a long goodbye for the German as a result, and an epilogue for his Liverpool reign following last year's underwhelming exploits as he gets the Reds back on track before riding off into the sunset. After all, following last year’s failings, most supporters would have bitten your hand off for Champions League qualification and a trophy.

When informing his players of his decision to leave back in January, the Athletic reported that, ‘Klopp joked that his exit was partly their fault because Liverpool had reached such a high level so soon that he felt he could pass the baton on to someone else.’

Regardless of how the season now ends, it should not be overlooked that this campaign has exceeded initial Reds expectations. But now closing in on his final month in the Anfield dugout, Klopp will still be looking to reverse this mini-rut and mastermind one final Liverpool high.