Premier League • England

Klopp hits back at question ‘no other manager’ faces amid Liverpool plan

Samuel Bannister
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during their 3-2 defeat to West Ham in 2021

Jurgen Klopp did not take kindly to talk of his own future at Liverpool after reacting to Aston Villa’s appointment of Steven Gerrard, the man many expect to be the German’s successor one day at Anfield.

Gerrard has taken his first steps into Premier League management after leaving Scottish champions Rangers for Villa. The ex-Liverpool captain has long been tipped to one day succeed Klopp in the Anfield dugout.

Their contracts at Liverpool and Rangers were due to expire at the same time in 2024. Gerrard’s subsequent move to Villa, who have given him terms until 2025, may have disrupted those plans slightly.

But the idea of Gerrard taking over at Liverpool one day will always be in the backs of people’s minds.

A recent report revealed that someone else already at the club should not be ruled out of the running when it comes to finding Klopp’s successor. Gerrard too will likely be in later discussions, though.

For now, he has a new challenge to focus on – and Klopp himself has lots ahead of him with Liverpool.

With that in mind, the 54-year-old responded harshly to questions of his own future emerging from what should be something to celebrate for Gerrard.

He said: “Wow. I thought Stevie said a lot of nice things and really smart things.

“I watched the press conference and I thought it was incredibly good. Make sure let’s talk about Aston Villa and Steven Gerrard and not Liverpool and Steven Gerrard.

“And now you turn this around to make this question? I don’t have to think about these kind of things at the moment, thank god, because we are in the middle of this season and it’s all that we are focused on this.

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“I really think I have spoken about it enough. No other manager gets asked as often about things that will happen in two and a half years or three years or four years.

“I didn’t think about it until you asked me now and don’t want to think about it now. It’s all fine how it is.

“It’s over when it’s over but it is far away from being over so let’s focus on that.”

The relationship between Klopp and Gerrard is a good one. The manager said earlier this year that Villa’s new boss is the one player he wishes he could have coached.

Former Rangers boss Steven Gerrard giving a thumbs up

They have been in touch since Gerrard’s change of job, although Klopp would prefer to keep the details private despite wishing him the best of luck.

Klopp added: “I sent Steven a message after he signed the contract at Aston Villa, but they are private. I am looking forward to seeing him and I am happy for him, but I am fine if that [conversation] stays private.”

Klopp has encouragement for Williams

Elsewhere in his press conference, Klopp was asked about one of his players who may have enjoyed the international break more than his club football.

Neco Williams played all 90 minutes of both of Wales’ World Cup qualifiers, against Belarus and Belgium, recently. At club level, though, the right-back is struggling to dislodge Trent Alexander-Arnold.

He even faces competition from midfielder James Milner for the berth when Alexander-Arnold is absent.

But Klopp gave Williams some encouragement after noticing how well he did for Wales.

Klopp confirmed: “He is pushing for a start. He’s a young player and we are a good football team; it’s not that easy to get into the team.

“We have Trent there, Milner has played there incredibly. Neco I saw for Wales and he did really well offensively. He can push.”

The idea has emerged that it may benefit Williams to go somewhere on loan in January. Klopp says he understands the line of question, but is neither ready to make a decision nor likely to opt for that route when the time comes to do so.

Neco Williams playing for Wales

He said: “Last thing I think about is who could go on loan in the winter.

“I can understand Robert Page says it makes sense he should play but they can qualify for the World Cup with a lot of players who aren’t first choice. It makes sense Neco is here fighting.

“You have to make sure you sort your problems because if you don’t, you carry those with you at the next club. Neco is developing and improving.”

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