With Manchester City among the favourites to pounce for Jurgen Klopp after he announced his decision to leave Borussia Dortmund, here’s a look at why the club should think twice about hiring the German tactician.
Although the 47-year-old is regarded as one of the finest coaches in the game at the moment for his superb work with Dortmund, questions have to be asked about his credentials to lead a team with far greater expectations and full of bigger names.
It seems a big part of Klopp’s strength is in being an underdog; he took over at Dortmund in 2008 and needed time to see his vision bear any fruit, with his side finishing sixth and then fifth in his first two seasons. Manchester City would be unlikely to have similar patience, and would surely demand immediate success.
Without meaning to totally deny Klopp credit, there is an argument that he was fortunate in the timing of his era as Borussia Dortmund coach. Bayern Munich went through a difficult patch between 2010 and 2012, an unpolished gem before Pep Guardiola took over and made them the force they are today. Since then, Bayern have re-established themselves as the dominant force in German football, and have famously poached two of arch rivals Dortmund’s best players in Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski.
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Klopp has struggled to replace his departing stars, and has also found it difficult to cope with the expectation that comes with a bigger reputation both in Germany and Europe. Although he would not have a huge problem with losing star players at City or working on a limited budget, there is still a major rebuilding job to be done at the Etihad Stadium this summer after a hugely disappointing second half of the current season. According to a study carried out by the Football Observatory, Man City have the oldest squad in the Premier League, and only Atalanta have an older squad in Europe’s top five leagues – meaning an overhaul will have to be a priority for the club soon. Established stars such as Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany may not be the first out of the exit door, but their performances this term do raise a lot of questions and replacements may be needed soon. However, two obstacles stand in the way of this huge task for the club – and could make the manager’s job much harder.
Firstly, the club will have to perform said revamp of the team while closely adhering to UEFA’s financial fair play regulations, and therefore may find it tough to recruit players of the requisite standard to help them compete for trophies once again. Klopp did some good business in the transfer market at Dortmund, bringing in Kevin Grosskreutz, Sven Bender, Lucas Barrios and Mats Hummels early into his reign, with Shinji Kagawa, Lukasz Piszczek and Robert Lewandowski all following quickly and helping the club to their first title since 1992. He also brought in youth players such as Mario Götze and Nuri Sahin, and it’s this aspect which needs most improvement at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City are regularly linked with signing British players this summer because they have very few players in their squad who are considered homegrown – and James Milner appears likely to depart this summer given his contract expires at the end of the season. This past week, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere have all been linked with a move to Man City, and the club will be well aware that a limited market will likely result in inflated transfer fees – something which could hamstring them further given the aforementioned need to follow FFP rules.
As mentioned, Klopp would be expected to succeed immediately at Eastlands – rather than build a project over a period of time like at Dortmund – the rate in which Man City cycle through managers illustrates that. In fairness to Manuel Pellegrini, he did manage this in his first season at City and perhaps deserves more credit for reinvigorating a team that had gone stale under Roberto Mancini, but that has not stopped him being the target of fans’ frustrations as soon as things have gone wrong, even if individual players have clearly let the team down as well. With plenty of money and big-name players brought in, it is always the manager who will be under intense scrutiny if things go wrong at City, and it’s hard to imagine a perfectionist and long-term thinker like Klopp doing well in that environment.