Having taken Liverpool from mid-table to Europe’s top table, and guided the club to a sixth European Cup before ending their thirty year title drought, it’s fair to say that Liverpool fans are totally enamoured with their German manager Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher caught up with The Sportsman to cast his eye to the future, and the potential of his former teammate Steven Gerrard succeeding current boss Klopp.
“I’d love to see him as Liverpool manager one day,” Carragher said. “I think everyone at the club would love that. But we’d all want that when Stevie was fully-equipped and fully ready because we’d want him to be successful, obviously.
“So, that’s not to say he shouldn’t be the next manager but I think management is all about timing and if Jurgen Klopp was leaving tomorrow and Stevie’s won the league, it would just feel like a natural progression. Now, Jurgen Klopp in two years time, maybe Celtic have come back at Rangers, and they didn’t win the league and then, even though Stevie is still the same manager, or probably an even better manager in two years time with more experience, it would be like ‘Yeah, but Celtic won the league didn’t they’ that’s just the way we think in football.”
However, the England international, with over 500 Liverpool appearances to his name, doesn’t believe it should be a forgone conclusion. “I don’t think it should be a shoo-in for Stevie, that just because he played for Liverpool he should get the job. He should get the job because he is a really good manager and right now he is proving to be a really good manager. I hope that continues and then it would be like ‘yep, Steven Gerrard should be the manager, not because he was a legendary player, but because he’s a top manager.’
“The signs right now are looking like he is going to be a top manager.” Carragher continued.
“It’s not just winning the league, his record in Europe is out of this world and that is going back since he joined Rangers, in the first couple of years even when Celtic were winning titles. He’s building up great experience, he’s at a big club, there is pressure, there is European football, he is involved in cup finals going for titles so all the things that you’d want a manager to do in preparation for the Liverpool job, Stevie is doing right now.
“So if he keeps ticking those boxes, he is in the mix. But I don’t think it should be a case of ‘it is definitely Steven Gerrard’ there should be three or four candidates going for that job, I’m sure Stevie will be part of that and if he is the best man for the job out of those candidates, absolutely.”
Having worked closely with Gerrard for nearly two decades, it is fair to say that Carragher knows the former England captain better than most. “Everything Stevie has done has been out of this world,” he smiled. “In terms of player, captain, captain of his country, 100 caps, there is nothing he hasn’t done at club level, and he has taken that into his first job as a manager as well.
“Sometimes there is something about certain people that is pretty special, no matter what they put their hand to, they prove successful. And Stevie at this moment, having done it as a player, now starting to do it as a manager, looks like he could be one of those.”
So with Gerrard gaining managerial experience every single month, would Carragher ever consider joining the managerial merry-go-round, or has fellow MNF pundit Gary Neville put him off ever stepping foot inside the dugout?
“I think he [Neville] has put everyone off! What Neville has done, he has put clubs off pundits! That is what he has done,” the former Liverpool man beamed. “But no, I’ve never thought twice about it since I joined Sky. I thought a lot about it towards the end of my career, but not since I’ve joined Sky. No."
“I think I’ve made that decision and once you make that decision it is very hard [to switch], as Gary showed. I think he will hold his hands up himself, you are going into something that you haven’t got the experience for because we’re gaining experience in TV. Other people are learning on the job and doing youth jobs and eventually get that big job that Gary got, which was a huge job, Valencia is a huge club, and he possibly hadn’t put the work in beforehand. Not because he is lazy, because he had chosen a different path in terms of TV, and that is what I’ve done so I wouldn’t."
If I got offered a job tomorrow to manage a club, I wouldn’t go near it because I wouldn’t be ready for it. I wouldn’t be good enough.
“I was offered a couple of roles, and I said yes to them and then they fell through and then Sky was there,” Carragher explained. “They were roles at Liverpool. They were roles just before Kenny Dalglish went, I asked could I shadow him, not so much a coaching role but almost be a link between the players and the management staff and learn from them. I had one year to go on my contract, I knew I was retiring so could I shadow Kenny and be involved in meetings and almost get a feel of what it was like on a day to day basis coaching.
“Kenny lost his job and then Brendan Rodgers came in and asked me if I wanted to be on his coaching staff for the last year of my contact, like a player-coach. I said yes and then Brendan just changed his mind on that, which is fine, I have no problem with that at all, but I suppose if one of those things would have fell my way, maybe i’d have gone, ‘okay, I’ve got the bug for this, my life will go that way and see where it goes’ but it never quite happened and then Sky came in for me with about six months left on my Liverpool contract and I said yes, basically and it has gone from there.”
So as Klopp targets more European glory, Carragher is happy enough in the comforts of the Sky studio, while Gerrard is still proving himself to be one of the top young managers in Britain. It feels like just a matter of time before we see the man who typifies Liverpool Football Club more than anyone else, step out in front of an adoring Anfield crowd once again - this time as manager.