EPL

Jamie Carragher says ‘so respected’ Xabi Alonso front-runner for Liverpool job

By Sports Desk January 26, 2024

Jamie Carragher believes former Liverpool team-mate Xabi Alonso is the favourite to replace outgoing manager Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

Klopp has made the surprise announcement he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season, admitting he is “running out of energy” after entering into his ninth year in charge of the club.

While Carragher hopes the German can “go out with a bang”, attention inevitably turns to who will be his successor and Alonso and Brighton’s Roberto de Zerbi are the early contenders.

Carragher gives Alonso, 42, the edge due to his five-year playing stint at Liverpool and an impressive start to management with Bayer Leverkusen, who are currently top of the Bundesliga, ahead of Bayern Munich.

“We are losing one of the greatest managers in world football, one of the greatest managers Liverpool have ever had and it is a sad day, no doubt,” Carragher told Sky Sports.

“But in the same breath, we’ve got to be looking forward to the new man coming in, get behind him and support him. Bill Shankly left, Bob Paisley left, Kenny Dalglish left and Liverpool moves on.

“You can’t get away from Xabi Alonso because he’s so respected at Liverpool already for what he did as a player – he’s a Champions League winner, held himself with real class, he’s a World Cup winner.

“Right now, the job he’s done at Bayer Leverkusen, he looks like the brightest young thing in European football. It certainly makes him the front-runner.”

Liverpool have a five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League – albeit having played a game more – and are into the Carabao Cup final and still in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Carragher, who made 737 appearances for the Reds, posted on X, formerly Twitter: “This news was always going to be a body blow to the club whenever it came.

“I just thought it would be another few years away. What a manager, what a man, let’s go out with a bang Jurgen!”

His thoughts were echoed by ex-Reds striker Michael Owen, who posted: “All great things inevitably come to an end but I thought it would be 2 or 3 years down the line. Memories to last a lifetime. One of the greatest managers ever.”

Bayern  boss Thomas Tuchel, who succeeded Klopp in 2015 when he left Borussia Dortmund ahead of joining Liverpool, said he was still trying to “process” the news when he was asked about it at his pre-match press conference on Friday, but added: “Kloppo is one of the best coaches of all time. He’s always managed to influence an entire club at all his clubs. It’s huge news.”

Klopp’s Manchester United counterpart Erik ten Hag hailed the “amazing job” the German had done on Merseyside.

“He has made an era there. He built the club, he brought the club back I think where they belong, so congratulations on that,” the Dutchman said.

Emma Hayes is set to step down after a lengthy and successful tenure as boss of Chelsea’s women’s team at the end of the season to move into international management with the United States.

And when asked about Klopp, Hayes told a press conference: “What an amazing job that man has done, he really has been a fantastic servant to Liverpool Football Club, and I’m sure everybody can respect the reasons for his decision.

“Not many people really understand what it takes to be a football manager and trust me, I can completely relate to the things he said.

“The players have to put the work in on the pitch and we have to off the pitch. Often coaching teams work long, long hours and big commitment. So as I said, I respect his decision and I wish him well.”

Liverpool host Norwich in the FA Cup at Anfield on Sunday.

Canaries boss David Wagner has known Klopp for more than 25 years after being team-mates at Mainz, and was best man at his friend’s wedding.

“I wasn’t surprised when he told me,” Wagner said at Norwich’s pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon. “I was happy for him, because I know how hard and how difficult for him this decision was and is.

“It shows a lot of personality, character and bravery as well. Only he knows what is best for him.

“We all know how exhausting and how challenging this business can be. If he knows it is best for him then I am happy for him and he will have a great time in front of him for sure.”

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