Liverpool will not struggle once Jurgen Klopp leaves in the same way Manchester United did following Sir Alex Ferguson’s exit, according to Stephen Warnock.
The Reds are still coming to terms with last week’s announcement that Klopp is to depart Anfield at the end of the season, ending a hugely successful nine-year period at the club.
Parallels have been drawn to when Ferguson stepped down as United manager in 2013 and when Arsene Wenger left Arsenal five years later.
However, ex-Liverpool defender Warnock believes there is enough quality – and longevity – in the current squad to help the new manager pick up from where Klopp leaves off.
“There’s a big narrative around filling people’s shoes,” Warnock told Stats Perform. “We look at Alex Ferguson, we look at Arsene Wenger, and we look at the replacements for them and go, ‘Well, they didn’t work.’
“It’s taken them years. People will argue Manchester United still haven’t recovered from that, and they haven’t got the appointments right. Some big, big names have gone in there.
“But don’t forget, Manchester United were on the decline. They were in a club that was always going to struggle.
“When you actually sit back now and look at it, even a year away from what happened, you could have gone, ‘Do you know what, [Ferguson] walked away at the right time’.
“That’s completely different to what Liverpool are now. I’d say Arsenal were in a similar situation where the club behind the scenes wasn’t in a great position.”
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
Warnock believes the structure behind the scenes under Fenway Sports Group (FSG) will also help with the continuity, as long as the new manager can adapt to the owners’ way of working.
“FSG are arguably one of the best-run football clubs in world football,” said Warnock, who made 67 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions.
“Yes, they get the critics for not going out and spending £150 million on a player, but we don’t hear Jurgen Klopp complaining about it. He totally understands why they work like that, what they do.
“The next manager who comes in is going to have to understand their process, their logic behind the thinking, how they run as a football club. And they’ve got to buy into that straight away.”
Klopp’s coaching staff will also leave Anfield at the end of the campaign, while Jorg Schmadtke is to step down from his sporting director role later this week.
In the view of Warnock, that could prove to be the biggest challenge Klopp’s successor faces – improving players who are not necessarily world-class when they arrive.
“One of the things that Jurgen Klopp did was improve players, him and his staff,” he said. “They were a group of coaches who were able to improve players.
“The next manager is also going to have to be a manager who brings in younger players who can improve those players and make them better.
“I think what we often look at when we look at Jurgen Klopp and his recruitment and Michael Edwards and the team that was there was Liverpool never really bought a world-class player.
“People might argue and say Virgil van Dijk, but they made world-class players, and that’s the remit behind the scenes for Liverpool, putting value into players.”
Jurgen Klopp has announced his decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season pic.twitter.com/8ls03h1mpv
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 26, 2024
Former Liverpool favourite Xabi Alonso is the frontrunner to take over from Klopp, having won many admirers at Bayer Leverkusen this season, while Roberto De Zerbi is another who has been regularly mentioned.
Warnock added: “You look at Alonso’s record and you say ‘phenomenal, absolutely incredible’. Then you look at De Zerbi.
“I think he’s a manager who understands he works within the constraints of what Brighton do and they have a process of how they want to do things. He works within that.
“He never moans, he certainly improves players and the style of football is quite breathtaking at times.”
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