Liverpool’s Defeat At Everton Signals Sad Ending For Jurgen Klopp

And just like that, in a cauldron of blue swirling noise, Liverpool’s title challenge ended. There was little protest or resistance, little in the way of anything. It just disappeared before their eyes. And so the golden sky heralded by Jurgen Klopp is finally at the end, and now questions of what follows will beckon. Here, he walked alone, let down badly by his players.


Losing a Merseyside derby isn’t a disaster, even if it is remarkably rare these days. Losing without a fight, as though the players were oblivious to the magnitude of the occasion, losing without any sense of urgency – that may be unforgivable.


Liverpool stumbled through a maelstrom of injuries and found themselves in position to win the title. The league was in their hands. And then it was gone. It wasn’t ripped away by the unyielding brilliance of Arsenal or Manchester City. It instead slipped out of the hands of Klopp’s men. 



Put simply, they failed. A season that began as a reconstruction will end as simply that. Speaking objectively, it’s been a remarkable season. And yet most Liverpool fans will be left feeling cold. A month or so ago there was talk of winning four trophies. But now three have gone, and in the tamest of manners.


They fumbled a position of dominance at Manchester United in the FA Cup and then returned there to slip up in the league once more. Defeats to Crystal Palace and now Everton further derailed the league challenge. A Europa League campaign that seemed poised for a showdown in Dublin with Xabi Alonso’s all-conquering Bayer Leverkusen couldn’t even make it past the challenge of an average Atalanta side. 


This, then, is how Jurgen Klopp will leave. He will consider it a painful shame and yet hauntingly familiar to his departure from Borussia Dortmund. There were signs in the past few weeks that the intensity of the high-pressing compact shape he demands has become too much. The team, running on empty legs and minds, look exhausted in every sense. 


Players that previously were performing to the top heights have slipped off. There has been a gaping vulnerability to Liverpool this season that has been covered by the enduring brilliance of Jurgen Klopp. The team went behind in almost every game and forged a lore out of glorious comebacks. But the issue with that is that eventually, the scale of the comeback will be too great.



Liverpool couldn’t find it against Atalanta and similarly, collapsed here against Everton. After a while, the cold reality of the structural issues lurking in the team cannot be glossed over by the warm footballing romance of an epic last-minute comeback. 


Perhaps in the future some of the players will look back with regret at the missed opportunity to win silverware and send a fabled manager out in the way he deserved. Perhaps it is fate for Klopp, the man who comes to rebuild fallen giants, that he leaves with more moments than trophies.


For the new arriving Liverpool manager, this will be a great challenge. Who to keep and who to let go, to find out where Liverpool go from here. 


Possible and likely departures will include Thiago and Cody Gapko but can the club rely on the injury-prone legs of Ibrahim Konate or Diogo Jota for all their on-field brilliance when they do play? Can Andrew Robertson provide the intensity of old? There’s little there to suggest that they can.



Liverpool’s attack requires a revamp in a similar mould to that of its midfield. Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez are responsible for much of the profligacy in front of goal. Their wastefulness across key games has cost Liverpool points. Patience with Darwin Nunez cannot surely endure for a third season of missed chances in big games? 


Some will point to Arsenal’s absence of a natural finisher but there is a fundamental difference that separates Arsenal from Liverpool. They can defend. Liverpool have too easily conceded sloppy goals and raised the stakes for the strikers. And when Jota is unavailable or Salah is misfiring, they seem dangerously vulnerable and fallible.


This is a stark contrast to the glory days of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino providing goals and assists in abundance. There was a ruthlessness to Liverpool then. This is a more forgiving side to its opponents. 


And that then brings onto the issue of what to do with Mohamed Salah. His status as a legend at the club was sealed a long time ago and he has remained Liverpool’s most potent attacker, the best finisher and creator in that team. But he hasn’t returned the same since his injury, his form wayward by the standards he usually sets. With Nunez and Diaz so wasteful, the burden has been entirely on Salah’s shoulders and he has slumped under the weight of the challenge. 



What Liverpool decide to do in the summer will be pivotal. This is a team at crossroads with the potential to become a great team or fade into obscurity as another case of wasted potential. There is talent there but it lacks sharp discipline and whoever replaces Klopp must restore that. 


There is a sadness to this being how things ended with Klopp at Liverpool. Memories of epic comebacks this season will endure, but it’s almost symbolic that his final season ends with great stories but also disappointment. Part of the allure of Klopp’s reign at Liverpool is that glories and triumphs were forged out of the rubble of failed dreams and hopes. It meant more because success wasn’t guaranteed. They had to fight and scrap for everything. 


But on a cold night in Merseyside against Everton, they didn’t fight and scrap for everything. Instead they bowed out tamely. For the man who brought back fighting football and a heavy metal style of play to the English game, this was a betrayal of everything he embodied. Jurgen Klopp deserved more from his players. 


By: Rabbil Sikdar / @rabbilnahar

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Getty Images