The question Jurgen Klopp might soon have to ask himself is this: Is Liverpool Football Club a “big club,” or a “project club?”
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Why must the former Borussia Dortmund manager, who shocked the world by leaving the club a two-time Bundesliga winner (2010-11 and 2011-12) following the 2014-15 season, ask himself this? Because earlier this month he said that when he takes his next job, “It must be somewhere in the world that is not an absolute top club, there are other good projects that are exciting who need help.”
With Brendan Rodgers‘ job reportedly hanging by a thread, Klopp’s name is the first coming out of anyone’s mouth when speculating who might replace the fourth-year Reds manager. Naturally, Klopp isn’t saying anything.
Still, it’s a worthwhile question and an interesting topic for pondering:
Liverpool’s last league title? 1990. Project.
Liverpool’s last UEFA Champions League triumph? 10 years and a few months ago. Big club.
Major trophies won the last 10 seasons? One League Cup. Project.
Ambitions and perception? Should be in the Champions League every year. Big club.
Legitimately world-class players in their current squad? Zero. Project.
It’s tough to say right now whether Liverpool is a big club or a project at this very moment. One the one hand, Anfield is sold out each and every week — 45,000 strong, soon to be 54,000 — and boasts one of the richest, trophy-filled histories of any club in England (up until 2011, no club had won more top-division titles than the Liverpool’s 18 — Manchester United now have 20).
The ambition of a massive club — $390 million spent over Rodgers’ seven transfer windows in charge, including $102 million this past summer — is certainly there, but so is the execution and underachievement of a “project”-type club. Certainly given Liverpool’s significant financial muscles, the right man could turn the Reds into perennial title contenders once again.
Liverpool are a unique case, in that they’re both a big club and a project at the same time — a sleeping giant awaiting its long overdue wake-up call. If that’s not appealing to Klopp, who’s just 48 years old, there’s no question Newcastle United, arguably the biggest project club this side of Mars, will be in a few more months.