Jurgen Klopp jokingly blamed his players for his earlier-than-expected Liverpool departure announcement, according to reports, as they had got too good in such a short space of time.
The Reds manager shocked the world on Friday morning, revealing in an emotional in-house video interview that he would be stepping down from his position at the end of the season.
That bombshell followed top-secret meetings with his staff and players at the AXA Training Centre, where Klopp confirmed his intention to stand down to stunned onlookers.
And, according to reports in the Telegraph and the Athletic, Klopp joked with his players that they were the ones to blame for him stepping aside because they had got Liverpool back on top so soon after a massive rebuild looked to be required.
It was always the 56-year-old’s intention to remove himself from the manager’s position once Liverpool were sufficiently equipped to face the future.
Following a tough season last term, when Liverpool finished fifth and fell out of the Champions League, Klopp resolved to rebuild the team and leave them on a pedestal.
“During his short speech to the players, Klopp joked that his exit was partly their fault because Liverpool had reached such a high level so soon that he felt he could pass the baton on to someone else,” the Athletic stated.
The publication also revealed that some players in the squad had been referring to this season as “the Last Dance”, believing that Klopp’s mind was made up to leave come the end of the campaign.
“Time will tell if Klopp’s final major Anfield decision is right, but he no longer believes they need him like they did,” the report in the Telegraph said.
“He told the players he was only going to leave Liverpool in a position of strength. If he thought there was more work needed to restore them to the position of title challengers or major trophy winners, a sense of unfinished business would have kept him in charge.”
Xabi Alonso is the early frontrunner to replace Klopp, having led Bayer Leverkusen to the top of the Bundesliga, and being a big Kop favourite from his Anfield playing days.