It was a Sunday of mixed emotions on Merseyside, as the Reds slumped to their sixth straight home defeat, meanwhile Liverpool’s favourite son finally won a league title.
Klopp’s men crossed the line from slump to crisis on Sunday, as they allowed Fulham so see out a 1-0 win at Anfield. Liverpool’s record breaking unbeaten Premier League run at Anfield now sits back to back with a contrastingly different record - their longest ever run of home defeats. It was a record that this Liverpool side set themselves on Thursday night when they lost to Chelsea, and it didn’t take them long to extend it.
While the current Liverpool manager is dragging the club through an unprecedented period of crisis, his successor-in-waiting has just achieved historic success for both himself and his current club. Gerrard has lead Rangers to their 55th title (or first, depending on who you’re talking to), stopping Celitc’s historic 10 in a Row triumph in the process, which not too long ago, looked to be an inevitability.
In resorting the Light Blue side of Glasgow to the summit of Scottish football, Gerrard is now going to get his hands something he never managed as a player - a league title. While the Red half of Liverpool are naturally made up for their local hero and former captain, many have been quick to try and rubbish his achievement.
“It’s a two horse pub/farmers league” - “He’s only managed it because Celitc have been diabolically sh*te this season” - “My nan could win the title in Scotland after three seasons with either Rangers or Celtic.”
You’ve read variations of the above being uttered on a social media, as fans of other English clubs, and even some Reds, have made shortsighted and futile attempts to rubbish the achievement of Gerrard’s Rangers. There’s one acceptable argument for genuinely believing the above statements - you don’t like Gerrard, Rangers or Liverpool and will stop at nothing to rubbish them. If you can’t admit to that being your only motivation, then you’ve not watched a minute of SPFL action this season, or you simply don’t know your football.
It’s undeniably true to say that Celtic’s calamitous implosion has been the main driving force behind their pathetic lack of a title challenge, but that shouldn’t detract from the achievement that Gerrard’s rangers have made. They are so far ahead because they’ve went the whole season unbeaten thus far, scoring 77 goals in the process and conceding just 9 - with only two of those being at home.
While his old stomping ground at Anfield is becoming a quickly crumbling fortress, Gerrard’s Ibrox is only becoming more iron-clad and impenetrable. Ranges 55th title is the earliest won in Scotland since 1903, and it’s fair to say that even if Celtic had managed to mount a better challenge, Rangers would’ve almost certainly saw them off.
Those who argue that Gerrard has merely won a two horse race need only to look at Rangers’ record in Europe this season. They are through to the last 16, having gone through the competition unbeaten thus far, which is doing wonders for the coefficient. Further progression could lead to an automatic Champions League spot for the Scottish Champions in future.
To progress further in the Europa League, they first have to get by Slavia Prague, who have themselves proven to be no mugs. They dispatched Premier League side Leicester in the last round and are unbeaten domestically.
Could the hangover from Sunday’s celebrations cause Gerrard’s Rangers to falter this Thursday? It’s a possibility, and we saw it happen to Liverpool after their title win, and Scotland following their Euro 2020(1) qualification playoff final win over Serbia. Liverpool lost 4-0 to Manchester City in their first game as Champions, and Scotland lost back-to-back Nations League games after the penalty shootout victory in Belgrade.
Those close to Gerrard seem to think that his elite winning mentality means he won’t allow his players to take their eye off the ball. He wants and invincible season, and a Europa League quarter final at the very least.
Down in Gerrards hometown, the European stakes are much higher, and perhaps offer Klopp the only avenue through which he can save Liverpool’s season. A top four spot is an all but confirmed impossibility, with a dogfight for a Europa League spot likely looming for the Reds.
For all their domestic woes though, they were impressive against Leipzig in the Champions Legaue, a strong outfit who are pushing the Bayern Juggernaut all the way in the Bundesliga this season. It’s not unthinkable that Liverpool could go far in the Champions League despite their Premier League crisis. Klopp has lead them to three European finals during his five years in charge, with only the one of them - in 2019 - being reached with a team we could call the finished article.
Liverpool’s title success was thanks in no small part to the defensive partnership of Van Dijk and Gomez, as well as Alisson’s formidability. The duration of the 38 game Premier League season required such defensive solidity, as their past failures told us. Knock out competitions like the Champions League can be reached by outscoring the opposition - just as Liverpool did on the road to Kiev in 2018. If Klopp can get his attacking players firing in Europe, a good run could be on - and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, Liverpool don't have to worry about the recent Anfield curse, at least for this round.
It’s inevitable that Steven Gerrard will take the reigns at Liverpool, however there’s never been any rush from Reds’ fans to have him in the hot seat. After delivering their first Premier League title in 30 years, Jurgen Klopp’s position as Liverpool manager looked to be unshakable, as he gained immortal status in the city.
Now the tide has changed among some fans, as Klopp’s crisis has aligned with Gerrard’s glory.
Jurgen Klopp has more than enough credit in the bank with the Liverpool board and the majority of the fan base to retain his position as manager regardless of how the rest of this season goes. The only way Jurgen would realistically depart Anfield and Melwood is of his own accord.
The pressures of the job he now has on his hands twinned with the emotional heartache of losing his mother in the midst of a global pandemic could prove to be too much to take for the charismatic German. Klopp deperating of his own free will would be understandable under the circumstances, but it’s not something that the majority of Liverpool fans, and the wider footballing world, would like to see.
In the unlikely event of Klopp’s departure, Gerrard’s name would most definitely be at the top of the list of potential candidates. However getting the Liverpool job at this stage could potentially disastrous for Gerrard. With just three years of management experience and one title, Gerrard himself isn’t ready - and the rebuilding job required at Liverpool would be a lot to take on for even the most high profile and experienced of managers.
The best solution for both Liverpool and Rangers is if the presumed plan goes ahead despite the Anfield crisis. Klopp should get another chance to rebuild Liverpool and go on in pursuit of further success, while Gerrard can stay on at Rangers to try and maintain their place at the summit of Scottish football, and have a stab at managing in the Champions League while he’s at it.
If all goes well, Gerrard will hand over a healthy Rangers to his successor in few years’ time and head back down south to take the reigns of a stable and successful Liverpool side. That’s the fairytale ending the fans want - but the world of football is unpredictable, exciting and unforgiving.
What does the future hold for Klopp, Gerrard and Liverpool? No one can likely no for sure - but we’re damn excited to find out!
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