Where does Jurgen Klopp rank amongst Liverpool’s greatest managers?

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Jürgen Klopp bid farewell to Liverpool this summer in an emotional swansong at Anfield. The German arrived in 2015 and turned doubters into believers, winning eight trophies and the hearts of Liverpool fans, who were disappointed their players were unable to upset the Premier League title odds and snatch a final trophy away from Manchester City before Klopp’s departure.

The charismatic German has etched his name in Anfield folklore, not just for the trophies he won but the personality he instilled into his craft when managing in front of the Kop. From his commanding fist pumps to touchline sprints, the manager won the people over from the moment he arrived, and now the pressure will be on new boss Arne Slot to carry the baton in Klopp’s absence.

While it’s unclear what’s next for Klopp, the German hinted he would take a break from management following his time in charge of the Reds, with fatigue a big reason for ending his contract two years early.

“You only have to look outside which clubs are obviously available and stuff like this,” he said. “There will be opportunities, but I don’t sit here and think, ‘Maybe in a year’s time I take that.’ In this moment, it’s see you later.”

Klopp is undeniably a Liverpool legend, but where does he rank amongst the best managers in the club’s history? In this article we look at some of the best bosses to have graced the hallowed turf at Anfield and assess how they fare against Klopp’s tenure.

Bill Shankly

Bill Shankly is often regarded as the father of modern Liverpool. Taking charge in 1959, Shankly inherited a club languishing in the Second Division and transformed it into a footballing powerhouse. His tenure saw Liverpool win three First Division titles, two FA Cups, and a UEFA Cup. Shankly’s greatest legacy was his ability to galvanise the club, creating the famous Boot Room culture that would guide Liverpool for decades, fostering a winning mentality and laying the foundation for future success.

Bob Paisley

If Shankly laid the foundations, Bob Paisley built the empire. Taking over from Shankly in 1974, Paisley led Liverpool through its most successful period, winning six league titles, three European Cups, and numerous domestic trophies. Paisley’s tactical genius and eye for talent enabled Liverpool to dominate both domestically and in Europe.

His calm, unassuming demeanour belied a fierce competitive spirit and an unparalleled knack for winning, cementing his place as one of the greatest managers in football history.

Joe Fagan

Joe Fagan, a long-serving member of the Boot Room, stepped into the managerial role in 1983 and maintained Liverpool’s dominance. In his first season, he achieved an unprecedented treble, winning the First Division, the League Cup, and the European Cup. ‘Smokin’ Joe’s tenure, though short, was marked by this remarkable success, demonstrating his adeptness at managing a team already accustomed to winning. However, the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 overshadowed his final season, leading to his retirement and mental struggles for the boss.

Kenny Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish is unique in Liverpool’s history, achieving legendary status both as a player and a manager.

As a player-manager, Dalglish guided Liverpool to three league titles and two FA Cups in his first stint in charge, balancing playing and managerial duties with aplomb. His ability to inspire players and maintain the club’s competitive edge during a tumultuous period, particularly following the Heysel and Hillsborough disasters, cements his place as one of Liverpool’s greatest figures.

Dalglish’s deep connection with the fans and his tactical acumen have made him an enduring icon at Anfield, even returning for a second stint in charge during the club’s struggles in 2011-12, turning things around to win the League Cup.

Gérard Houllier

Gérard Houllier took over in 1998 and is credited with modernising Liverpool, bringing the club into the 21st century. He introduced new training methods, dietary regimes, and a more professional approach. Houllier’s tenure saw Liverpool win a cup treble in 2001 (FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Cup) and finish second in the league in 2002.

His emphasis on discipline and fitness set new standards at the club, although his time was also marked by health issues that affected his tenure. Houllier sadly passed away in 2021, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anfield was unable to pay him homage until the following season, but the Frenchman is amongst the most famous managers in the club’s history and is still fondly remembered by a new generation of reds.

Rafael Benítez

Rafael Benítez arrived at Liverpool in 2004, quickly making his mark with a famous Champions League victory in 2005, where Liverpool came back from 3-0 down to win on penalties against AC Milan. Benítez also won the FA Cup in 2006 and consistently kept Liverpool competitive in Europe, signing the likes of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres.

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