Martin King discusses why Dietmar Hamann’s comments regarding Jürgen Klopp’s six-year contract are bizarre and unwarranted.
They acted “with their heart and not their head”, was the verdict from Dietmar Hamann.
The former Germany international midfielder came out to slam Liverpool’s decision to give manager Jürgen Klopp a six-year contract, after only his first season in charge. Klopp signed a new contract with the Reds last July, adding on to his initial three-year deal that was signed in October 2015, a time after which the German made a tremendous impact on the club and its fans, despite their eventual failure.
Fast-forward seven months and halfway into his first full season at the helm, Klopp finds himself in a similar situation to when he took-over, having to lift heavily dropped heads. Liverpool have gone from strong title contenders for most of the Premier League season, to throwing away their hopes in the space of two weeks. Two cup exits in one week have followed a league defeat away to Hull City in another, which has resulted in the Reds completely dropping out of the top-four and former player Hamann questioning club owners Fenway Sports Group’s pre-season decision.
“I found it strange,” he told the BBC.
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“You don’t get stability from a six-year contract – you get it from good work in the transfer market.
“He [Klopp] had an impact and has improved some players but if you look at the pure facts, the points average didn’t improve dramatically from Brendan Rodgers’ time.
“They have lost two finals – both they could or should have won – and then the club make a decision with their heart and not their head and extend the contract.”
At first listen, Hamann’s comments may be generally accepted as fair, especially given the sort of predicament Liverpool currently find themselves in, both as a squad and a club. However, a clearer look at ‘pure facts’ would suggest that the former Reds midfielder is perhaps being a little too rash in his analysis of the club’s decision to offer Klopp a six-year deal.
Long-term plan, long-term deal
If there’s one initial fact that needs to be acknowledged about FSG’s signing of Klopp on a six-year deal, it’s that the Boston-based club owners weren’t at all promising six consecutive years of success, neither was the manager and his backroom staff. Both parties aspire to bring success to Anfield through silverware and the development of players and that, considering Liverpool’s current position as a club, is a long-term plan. Therefore it demanded a long-term deal.
Fortunately or unfortunately, that plan was never going to succeed immediately. Due to the quality of Liverpool’s Premier League rivals, which is supported by the high amounts of money they spend in the transfer market each year, competing at the top was certainly going to take the Reds plenty of doing.
A counter argument to this would obviously be the Merseyside club’s outstanding performances in all competitions in the first half of the season, surely they proved then that they’ve got what it takes to compete with and overcome their rivals, right?
No. What the first half of the season proved is that Klopp’s team can challenge their competitors only for a certain period in a season, however, when it comes to lasting the full distance, the strength of their top-six rivals outweighs theirs – as their current league table position of fifth proves.
That said, the main task for the Liverpool manager is building a side that is capable of challenging at the top for a sustained period of time, with the good news being that the club owners are aware of that, hence their decision to offer Klopp a long-term contract, even after a single season in charge.
If that doesn’t sound like a head-inspired decision, then it would be difficult to explain what is.
Full backing will eventually produce results
Obviously, putting Klopp in charge for the long-term alone is not enough. There must be certain measures taken, especially in the transfer market, like Hamann says, for good stability to be achieved at Liverpool Football Club.
The good news for the Anfield faithful is that, as has already been proved, Klopp has the full backing of the Boston-based club owners in all aspects, including the transfer market.
That means that for every lack in quality there currently exists in the Liverpool squad – whether it’s in defensive, central or forward areas – Klopp and his backroom staff would’ve already been taking note and will look to improve upon it in the near and long-term future.
Take for example the Reds’ alarming lack of a naturally-gifted winger last season. Klopp identified such a problem following his appointment and with the full backing of FSG bought Sadio Mané from Southampton – the Senegalese striker has since been a hit. What about the lack of a cool head in central defence? In came Joel Matip, who is also spoken very highly of by most, if not all, of the Liverpool fanbase.
There still exists an alarming lack of quality in a few other key areas in Klopp’s squad but the aforementioned business can certainly act as an encouraging factor that the German is on his way to building a complete and capable squad, once again making his six-year deal a sensible one.
With the constant backing of FSG, it would probably take a cynical head to overrule Liverpool’s chances of success under the former Borussia Dortmund man, both now and in the future.
Thankfully Hamann isn’t that man, as the German also said, “I hope he is there for six years, that means the club will have been successful.”
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