Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has sensationally been installed as the odds-on favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post. The German coach was a 100/1 outsider in this market at the start of the campaign, having led the Reds to their first Premier League title in the summer.
His team made a strong start to the season, but an injury crisis derailed their title defence and their recent form has been dismal. Liverpool slumped to a third consecutive defeat when they faced Leicester at the King Power Stadium on Saturday. Mohamed Salah handed his team a 1-0 lead following some fine footwork from Roberto Firmino, but the Liverpool defence suffered a late meltdown.
James Maddison’s free-kick was intended as a cross, but it bounced past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Alisson and into the net. A calamitous collision between Alisson and new signing Ozan Kabak then handed Jamie Vardy and open goal to make it 2-1 to the Foxes, and Harvey Barnes wrapped up an emphatic victory by slotting past Alisson on 85 minutes.
The result left Liverpool 13 points behind Man City, who have a game in hand, and Klopp immediately conceded that his team’s title challenge was over. “I don’t think we can close the gap,” he said in a post-match interview. “We are not worrying about the title, we are not silly.”
Liverpool’s woes began with back-to-back draws against relegation threatened West Brom and Newcastle towards the end of December. They then lost to Southampton, drew with Man Utd and lost to Burnley, leaving them with just three points from five games. The Reds appeared resurgent by beating Spurs and West Ham at the end of January, but the wheels have now come off in spectacular fashion.
Liverpool put in an uncharacteristically limp performance in a 1-0 defeat to Brighton on February 3, and then they lost heavily to Man City. Alisson was largely at fault in that game too, as his poor distribution allowed Pep Guardiola’s men to ease to a 4-1 triumph.
The Reds had a great opportunity to return to winning ways against Leicester yesterday, as they had an excellent record against the Foxes. However, they were overwhelmed in midfield after Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers switched to a diamond, and Barnes caused all sorts of problems for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The result left Liverpool six points behind Leicester. They are also five points behind Man Utd, who have a game in hand. If Chelsea, West Ham, Everton and Aston Villa were to win their games in hand, Liverpool would slip down to eighth in the table.
Long-term injuries to Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez have caused Klopp a major headache this season. Joel Matip was the last remaining senior centre-back, and he is now out for the season. Klopp has been forced to play Fabinho at the back for large parts of the campaign, while captain Jordan Henderson has regularly played in defence in recent weeks.
That has left the Reds light in midfield. Neither man is a natural defender, and they have often played alongside rookies like Rhys Williams, Nathan Phillips and Kabak, the Reds have conceded far too many goals. They only conceded 33 last term, but they have already conceded 32 this time around, with 14 games still to play. They have just 11 wins from 24 games, with seven draws and six defeats. That includes a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Aston Villa.
Klopp can justifiably point to injuries, but players that were rock solid last season have also regressed badly. Alisson no longer looks like a calm and assured presence in goal. Raheem Sterling tore Alexander-Arnold to shreds last weekend, and Barnes gave him the runaround yesterday. Salah is still scoring, but Sadio Mané has gone off the boil and Firmino has not contributed enough goals, while new signing Thiago Alcantara has not had the desired impact.
Several bookmakers now see Klopp as the odds-on favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post. That can include him being sacked or resigning. You can still find even money at William Hill if you think he will go, while Paddy Power and Betfair have 10/11 and Unibet has 9/10.
Jose Mourinho is the second favourite, best priced at 5/1 with Paddy Power, following Tottenham’s alarming slump in form. Spurs have lost four of their last five games, and they were swatted aside with casual disdain when they faced Man City yesterday. Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce are also in the mix, with Crystal Palace and West Brom both struggling. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mikel Arteta, the favourites in this market a couple of months ago, are now priced at 50/1 and 80/1 respectively.