Jurgen Klopp is certain that Steven Gerrard will go on to become a Liverpool manager.
Gerrard takes his Aston Villa side to Anfield on Saturday, returning to his former club for the first time as a manager or a player.
The former England midfielder, who is a club great at Liverpool, won the Champions League in 2005 along with three EFL Cups, the FA Cup and UEFA Cup with the Reds during a glittering career.
He started his coaching career within Liverpool’s youth set up before joining Rangers in 2018. Last season, he led them to their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade, ending Celtic’s dominance.
Villa came calling at the start of November in the wake of Dean Smith’s dismissal and Gerrard has overseen three victories from his opening four Premier League games in charge, only losing to Liverpool’s title rivals Manchester City.
Gerrard has long been tipped to take over at Liverpool, possibly even from Klopp, whose current deal runs until the end of the 2023-24 season.
And Klopp – who began Friday’s news conference by joking he would not take any questions over Gerrard – has no doubt the 41-year-old will manage Liverpool, though believes the right timing is crucial.
“Yes, I think, absolutely – the only problem is when is the right moment for that?” Klopp said about the prospect of Gerrard managing the Reds.
“Not only with Stevie but look at Frank [Lampard] at Chelsea, a similar story. Stevie’s doing really well, he’s very young from a manager’s point of view.
“So it’s about when he takes the job, not that he’s not able to do it, but when does he want to do it?
“Is it the last job, the second or third job or whatever? Those are questions I can’t answer but yes, I think it will definitely happen and it will be good for everybody.”
Asked if Gerrard must first prove his credentials with Villa, Klopp added: “I’m not the right person to answer that.
“It’s not up to me to make those kind of decisions, I don’t know what you have to do before you become Liverpool manager.
“I know people say you have to win things but I think it’s more important to win things while you are here. You can win things in the past but never win something again.
“Everything Stevie has done so far looks good and is going in the right direction. I cannot see a scenario where I am involved in that decision, but who knows what the future will bring!”
It is set to be a highly emotional return for Gerrard, who made 710 appearances across all competitions for Liverpool, though the German insisted there is no room for sentiment during the contest.
“It’s a wonderful story,” Klopp said. “Stevie is already an experienced coach, he’s doing the job for a while, knows exactly how to approach games. He probably has no idea how it will feel when he steps into the dug-out.
“I had a similar feeling the first time I went back to Mainz, and the times I went back with Liverpool to Dortmund. It’s strange. But I could handle it, Stevie can handle it.
“Before I will shake hands, after I will shake hands, but in between I will go full throttle and he will go full throttle.
“I remember when we scored with Dortmund at Mainz, I forgot everything about my history, I was celebrating like a crazy devil. He has every right to do that as well, I just hope he has no reason for it.”
Klopp also suggested Liverpool need to use the emotion of the occasion to create a vibrant Anfield atmosphere as they look to either keep pace with or leapfrog current leaders City, while third-place Chelsea are also in action on Saturday.
“Stevie might say there is no sentiment but from our point of view there is sentiment, we love Stevie, but we are all professionals,” he said.
“Stevie can get the best reception in the world because he deserves it but in the 95 minutes we need everybody behind us. We have to throw everything in, use Anfield, and then it’s difficult for each opponent.”
History is not on Gerrard’s side. Former players managing against the Reds at Anfield in the Premier League have lost 14 of their last 16 visits (W1 D1), with Kevin Keegan the last ex-Liverpool player to win there in 2003.
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