Jurgen Klopp to Liverpool: German favourite, Carlo Ancelotti also in running, owners confirm search is 'underway'

German coach ready to end sabbatical as Anfield owners finally run out of patience with Irishman

Jürgen Klopp is the leading candidate to become Liverpool’s next manager after Brendan Rodgers was sacked following a 1-1 draw with Everton in the Merseyside derby.

The German, 48, has been out of work since resigning from his post at Borussia Dortmund in May, having won the Bundesliga twice in his seven years at the club.

Rodgers had been under mounting pressure following a demoralising 3-1 defeat at Manchester United last month. Since then, Fenway Sports Group – the Boston based investment firm that owns Liverpool – have been exploring the option of replacing him.

From the moment they took control at Anfield five years ago next week, FSG have been open about their lack of experience in football and have taken the counsel of what they refer to as “pre-eminent advisors” when making big decisions such as this.

As The Independent revealed last month, they were initially advised to be cautious of Klopp, a manager of unswerving demands and strong character. Yet, gradually, it seems they have warmed to the idea of recruiting him, recognising his potential as a coach with a proven track record of getting the best out of a squad where no individual is greater than the sum of its parts but also his commercial value. Klopp has a unique personality and has one of the most recognisable faces in world football.

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Up until Saturday, Klopp’s representatives were denying that Liverpool had made any approach towards him, yet yesterday morning a report in a Bosnian newspaper claimed that Zeljko Buvac would become Klopp’s assistant at Liverpool after agreeing a three-year contract. Buvac and Klopp have known each other for nearly 25 years, having played for Mainz together before forming a successful managerial team.

Since leaving Dortmund, Klopp has been on a self-imposed sabbatical but is said to be open to ending that break for the right job. He has previously spoken of his admiration for Liverpool, a club with history and a febrile atmosphere similar to Dortmund.

There had been suggestions that Liverpool were keen to appoint Carlo Ancelotti as Rodgers’ replacement. FSG chairman Tom Werner was in New York last week at the same time as the former Chelsea manager, while Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s chief executive, was also spotted in Manhattan.

However, it is believed that Ancelotti has aspirations to manage Bayern Munich when Pep Guardiola decides to leave Bavaria. That could be as early as this summer, with both Manchester City and Manchester United potential destinations for the Catalan.

Ancelotti also believes he has unfinished business with Chelsea and could be a candidate to take over from Jose Mourinho if the Portuguese is sacked.

Ancelotti has a history of managing successful clubs that need only finishing touches before achieving their ultimate goals. He might consider the task of rebuilding Liverpool – with “rebuilding” being a word Rodgers has used with regularity in recent weeks – being too great.

Rodgers, who was told by FSG president Mike Gordon that he was being let go by Liverpool after he and the squad arrived back at the Melwood training complex following the short drive from Goodison Park, departs Anfield having taken Liverpool closer to the title than any of the five other managers that have been in charge in the last 25 years.

Despite playing brilliant football in the 2013-14 season, the Irishman’s time unravelled quickly following the sale of Luis Suarez in the summer of 2014, with too many failed signings being the prime reason for his demise.

Brendan Rodgers feels "no pressure whatsoever" [AMBIENT]

Rodgers was close to being sacked in May, when FSG’s US-based members questioned the progress of the team under his stewardship after Liverpool went from finishing second to seventh in 12 months. He was saved by Gordon, who vouched for his credentials, along with Ayre, ahead of an end-of-season review at the start of June. It was decided that Rodgers should continue and be backed in the transfer market, with the big-money signing of Christian Benteke being his suggestion.

Rodgers had previously been undermined by the presence of a transfer committee, of which he was a part, where transfer targets were suggested based on their statistical performance. It remains to be seen whether the committee will remain in place when Rodgers’ replacement takes over.

 

During the international break, Rodgers’ assistant manager Sean O’Driscoll and first-team coach Gary McAllister will take control of training, with Dutchman Pep Lijnders also heavily involved.

Sources inside Liverpool claim the club wants to take its time over appointing a successor, but the speed at which they operated after the result against Everton suggests that person’s identity is close to being revealed.

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