Liverpool truth clear after theories about Jurgen Klopp's decision to quit

Just two months ago, Liverpool were still dreaming of finishing the season by winning a possible quadruple.

Jurgen Klopp had announced his decision to step down as manager at the end of the season back in January, with the rest of the campaign acting as the German's 'Last Dance' as the Reds prepared to bring the curtain down on his trophy-laden nine-year tenure. Just a month after his announcement, he had added another trophy as Liverpool lifted the League Cup despite a crippling injury-crisis.

But after a shock FA Cup quarter-final exit to bitter-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, losing 4-3 in the last-minute of extra-time despite dominating the Red Devils for the majority, the Reds' season has slowly unravelled.

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Atalanta dismantled them 3-0 at Anfield to consign Liverpool to a shock quarter-final exit in the Europa League, despite a 1-0 second leg in Bergamo, while another disappointing trip to Old Trafford ended in a 2-2 draw. At the time, the Reds had the opportunity to take control of the Premier League title race. Instead, they have drifted further and further behind Manchester City and Arsenal as the weeks have gone by.

Winning just four of their last 12 matches in all competitions, they now having nothing left to play for ahead of Klopp's farewell against Wolves on Sunday with Champions League football and a top-three finish already secured. But did the German's early announcement, confirming his decision to leave, negatively impact Liverpool at the business end of the season or put them in such a strong position in the first place? Our writers have their say...

'Klopp declaration actually proved of benefit to his squad'

Ian Doyle: Let's be honest. Jurgen Klopp's decision to go public with his imminent departure back in January had absolutely nothing to do with Liverpool being unable to keep up their unlikely pursuit of a quadruple.

Injuries and an untimely drop in form of some key players was the reason for that, plus the fact the Reds had already far outstripped expectations. If anything, that Klopp went early with his declaration actually proved of benefit to his squad.

It certainly made a difference when the injury crisis was at its worst toward the end of February, as was evidenced in the League Cup final win over Chelsea despite finishing the game with arguably only three first-choice players on the pitch. Indeed, the Reds won nine of their next 10 games since Klopp's departure became common knowledge.

There was never going to be a good time for the news to come out. But by controlling the narrative, Klopp and Liverpool prevented his position becoming one of rumour and conjecture, as would surely have happened once the Reds began looking for replacements. Such actions would surely have leaked within no time.

'It took its toll but they couldn't do anything different'

Theo Squires: The timing of Jurgen Klopp's exit announcement has certainly had an impact on his Liverpool squad during the second half of the season, both positively and then negatively. How could it not? They are just human beings, after all.

The odds were stacked against the Reds when their squad was decimated by injury, but off the back of Klopp's announcement, they rode a wave throughout the winter months. Doing it for their manager, determined to deliver a successful 'Last Dance' it resulted in League Cup glory.

But anyone who has watched Liverpool closely this season will have noticed the nerves, the emotion, and the lack of control. There are only so many times they could fall behind and come back. Only so many times they could 'do it for Klopp' before it became too much.

For a good while it carried the Reds over the line, but then such pressures became too much. Of course, there is more at play here. The after-effects of that aforementioned injury crisis with returning players lacking form and rhythm and those that stayed available now burnt out playing a far bigger role.

The weight on their shoulders took its toll and ultimately proved too much. But it's only because Klopp is leaving that this season now feels underwhelming. At the start of the year, all supporters would have taken a trophy and top four, before that desperate desire for one final European trophy in Dublin or a second Premier League title.

In truth, if Klopp hadn't announced he was leaving in January, there would have been no initial wave. Liverpool could have found themselves unstuck a lot sooner than their season-ending whimper, with such efforts putting them in a stronger position in the first place.

Having kept the decision private for two months, it is inconceivable the Reds could have kept it quieter for longer. It had to come out eventually and they couldn't do anything different. While a March announcement might have resulted in a stronger finish to the season, who knows what position they would have found themselves working from at the time.

This Liverpool weren't ready to win the Premier League title. But with Klopp announcing his exit, for three months they looked to have a chance. They might have nothing to show for it, but it's the last seed of hope he fed to a fanbase after memorably transforming them from doubters to believers all those years ago.

'There is little secrecy in modern football'

Keifer MacDonald: If Jurgen Klopp had his way, he would have announced his decision to leave Liverpool after Sunday's season finale against Wolverhampton Wanderers, riding into the sunset with minimal fuss and without the background of a farewell tour that has followed since January.

Sadly, though, there is little secrecy in modern football and the fact that those at Anfield were able to keep the German's decision under wraps from November, when he informed Fenway Sport's Group of his decision to stand down, is impressive enough.

It could be argued that Liverpool's expectations were raised as a result of the announcement, with a return to the Champions League no longer viewed as a satisfactory parting gift to Klopp from both the players and fans, with some still hurting from the inability to celebrate the 2019-20 title success due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is impossible to calculate if Liverpool's hopes of winning the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup were bogged down by the desperation to deliver a Hollywood ending to their revered manager.

However, the fact the Reds won nine of the 10 games after Klopp's departure was made public, including the League Cup final in remarkable circumstances, shows that they were actually buoyed by the news as they rode the crest of a wave at Anfield in February and early March.

At the end of the season when Liverpool are to examine where their push for an unprecedented trophy haul fell short, battling against a season-long injury list will be viewed as a more detrimental factor than the timing of Klopp's announcement.