Dave Kidd: Jurgen Klopp’s row with Mo Salah will define the collapse of his Liverpool empire… he totally botched exit

IT is the image which will define the collapse of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool empire.

A manager who admitted at least five months ago he was running out of gas, having a heated touchline row with a star player who wanted to take the Saudi shilling last summer.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have fallen away in the Premier League title raceGetty

Klopp and Mo Salah had a row on the touchline during Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with West HamGetty

The sanctimonious ‘This Means More’ brigade have turned on Mo Salah for his petulance, while arriving as a late sub as Liverpool’s title chances moved from slim to non-existent in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at West Ham.

And Salah’s behaviour certainly told us that the extreme unity of Klopp’s ‘Mentality Monsters’ was a thing of the past.

Salah has still had a decent individual season but there have only been three Premier League goals from the Egyptian since Klopp handed in his notice and since his injury at the Africa Cup of Nations.

And Liverpool’s only genuinely convincing display during their recent season-wrecking, ten-match run was the 3-1 win at Fulham — when Salah was dropped.

Still, Klopp should take the lion’s share of the blame for Liverpool’s capitulation because the German has botched his exit.

When he announced his intention to quit the club in January, Liverpool were top of the league having suffered a single — unjust — defeat all season, thanks to a VAR debacle at Tottenham.

While a quadruple was always a long shot, it was not entirely unrealistic.

And a second Premier League title was very much on.


But Klopp is burnt-out, quite understandably, and he knew as much in November when he told his staff he would leave at the end of this season.

Indeed, Klopp’s No 2 Pep Lijnders said he knew last summer that ‘we were going towards the end of this project’.

As an elite football manager, when you know your time is up, you’re no longer fully effective.

And when you’ve told everyone else that your time is up, your time is up.

So, Klopp’s announcement was always likely to derail Liverpool’s season — especially given how extremely his team, at its best, reflects his own manic personality.

Would Liverpool have enjoyed a more successful season had Klopp quit last summer, when he knew he was no longer in it for the long term, and if Salah had been allowed to leave for lucrative Saudi semi-retirement?

Probably not. Finishing third in the Premier League and winning the Carabao Cup is no disgrace.

And at the start of the campaign, it would have been considered par for the course.

But the post-Klopp rebuild could have started a year earlier and without such an avoidable and predictable anti-climax to this season.

Now, having been snubbed by Xabi Alonso, the outstanding candidate to succeed Klopp, Liverpool have gone down Manchester United’s ‘bald Dutchman’ route with Arne Slot, rather than the expected ‘Latin hipster’ approach with Sporting Lisbon’s Ruben Amorim.

Slot needs patience and may well get it. But replacing a long-serving club great is always a tough gig, especially in the likely event that Liverpool lose their best two players, Salah and Virgil van Dijk.

Liverpool’s time as Manchester City’s leading domestic rivals is over, with Arsenal having now usurped them over two seasons.

Klopp’s four-year Anfield peak finished in 2022, when another quadruple ended with Liverpool pipped to the title by Manchester City and losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid.

Now we know Klopp’s final major trophy haul at Liverpool — one Champions League, one Premier League, one FA Cup, two League Cups and (if you must) a World Club Cup — where does his reign stand among the greatest of the Premier League era?

In black-and-white terms, Klopp is way behind Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola, the only two men to have won multiple Premier Leagues and a Champions League at the same club.

Those two sit alongside Brian Clough, Bob Paisley and Sir Matt Busby as the undoubted all-time managerial greats of the English game.

But Klopp ranks in the next tier down — with Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho (the Chelsea version), Bill Shankly and Don Revie.

These were all men with the strength of character to transform their clubs in their own image and enjoy success but who did not win as much as they might have done.

Had Klopp managed to keep his intentions under wraps and ended up with another title, perhaps even a treble or quadruple, he’d have edged himself up into that highest echelon with Ferguson, Guardiola, Clough, Paisley and Busby.

But deciding the timing and the manner of your exit is one of the toughest calls for any manager or sportsman.

Klopp got it wrong. And the sight of him squabbling with Salah on the touchline at West Ham is cast-iron proof of that.


THE voting for the Footballer of the Year award closes on Tuesday and, unlike many, I’ve gone for Cole Palmer.

Most Football Writers’ Association members vote by starting with the likely Prem champs and work backwards. So the winner will be Phil Foden, Rodri, Declan Rice or Martin Odegaard.

There is dissent if a player from a less successful team wins, like David Ginola from mid-table Spurs in Manchester United’s ’99 Treble- winning year.

But enjoying a superb individual season in a poor team is a greater achievement.

And for Palmer — just 21 and in his first season as a regular starter — to have chalked up 23 goals and 13 assists in such a basket-case team as Chelsea, makes him this season’s outstanding player.


MUCH guffawing when Erik ten Hag proclaimed his Manchester United side as “one of the most dynamic and entertaining teams” in the Premier League after a 1-1 home draw with Burnley.

But I agree with him.

This season I’ve watched live as United beat Liverpool and Wolves 4-3, drew 3-3 with Coventry and Galatasaray and lost 4-3 at Bayern Munich and Copenhagen. I also watched on telly as they were beaten 4-3 at Chelsea.

As a neutral, I can’t remember seeing any team involved in quite so many mental matches during the course of one season.

The problem is Ten Hag isn’t there to produce chaotic entertainment for the likes of me, he’s there to make Manchester United successful and make their fans happy — which is an entirely different metric.


MOST people fancy a glamour Champions League final between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, whose star man Kylian Mbappe is about to move to the Bernabeu.

But I would prefer an all-German affair between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund — like the last Wembley final in 2013.

Just for the larks of seeing Englishmen Eric Dier and Jadon Sancho line up against each other in the world’s greatest club match, after both were frozen out of average Premier League teams and with neither of them in England’s Euros plans.


DESPITE the horrors of Ikea, Sweden is my new favourite country after its clubs voted against introducing VAR.

Those of us who opposed VAR and now want it scrapped are told this can’t happen, as if any rowing back against technology makes you some kind of flat-Earther.

But the Swedes have seen this ruinous system operate and are right not to touch it with a flat-packed bargepole.

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