Phil Thompson has championed Steven Gerrard’s claims of taking over at Liverpool one day, but says there is one contender who should not be discounted from replacing Jurgen Klopp.
German boss Klopp is under contract at Anfield until 2024 and with domestic and European glory under his belt he remains on course to walk away from the Anfield hot-seat. Klopp, who will turn 57 in June 2024, has continually played down links to taking over the national team job.
In March 2021 Klopp made it clear he would honour his contract at Liverpool and would not break his word even for the top job with Germany.
“Nothing has changed and if I decide to [leave] in 2024 it’ll be nothing to do with the quality of the squad,” Klopp said earlier this month. “All we do is for the long term. This club must be even better when I am not here anymore. That’s the plan.”
The Champions League and Premier-League winning coach insists he has no plans beyond 2024. Although he has previously stated he would take a year off. Liverpool though will need a successor and Gerrard has been touted as the most likely man to step into the void.
And Thompson, 68, who played for and managed Liverpool says Gerrard would be perfect.
“I think he would be [a big draw] and you can see him as a natural fit. Obviously you have got to earn the right,” Thompson told The Liverpool Echo when asked about Gerrard’s suitability.
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“Obviously Jurgen was at Mainz, was at Dortmund, and then came through. Steven has gone in at Rangers, which is a massive club. Then he has gone to Villa, and you can see the changes that he has done, bringing in the players that he has done.
“[The signing of] Philippe Coutinho is because it is Steven Gerrard. Players will always want to come and play for him, which will be a big draw at Liverpool.”
Lijnders lured back to Anfield by Klopp
But Thompson also believes Klopp’s current assistant boss Pep Lijnders should not be discounted.
Lijnders, 39, arrived on Merseyside in 2014 to work with Brendan Rodgers. He left Anfield in January 2018 to take on the managerial position at NEC Nijmegen. But he returned as Klopp’s assistant in June of that year after being persuaded to return by Klopp.
Klopp promised Lijnders that “we could both be responsible for everything that happens inside the club” and the pair have worked seamlessly together in driving up standards at Kirkby.
And Thompson says he is a contender to succeed Klopp, who would no doubt give his blessing.
“He shouldn’t be discounted when [Klopp’s departure] happens,” added Thompson
“Yes, if Steven comes I would be delighted. But if Pep Lijnders was to take it then he would get Jurgen’s blessing. I would do that because you see he has got that fiery character the way Jurgen can be. He is also a very good coach.”