Grieving Jurgen Klopp needs a hug, but instead faces season defining games for faltering Liverpool and possible rebuild
LIFE in lockdown has left us all feeling low – but no one needs a hug more than Jurgen Klopp right now.
The grieving Liverpool boss was unable to attend his mother's funeral this week because of travel restrictions between Germany and the UK.
In any other walk of life he would be entitled to a spell of compassionate leave to come to terms with his loss.
But the demands of modern football management are so relentless that there is virtually no time for Klopp to even catch his thoughts.
Pretty much everything that could go wrong for Klopp has gone wrong over the past six months. But the passing of a beloved parent puts all his other problems into perspective.
A rare free midweek allowed Klopp to give his players the day off on Tuesday as his mother was laid to rest.
But now he somehow has to put his sadness to one side and focus on finding a way to galvanise his faltering team.
Last Sunday's 4-1 home defeat by Manchester City leaves the Reds 27 points down on the same stage of last season – and professional grouch Roy Keane couldn't wait to put the boot in as he declared them 'bad champions'.
If that jibe doesn't elicit a response from Klopp's mentality monsters, nothing will.
Because the next eight days could define Liverpool's season.
First up is a trip to third-placed Leicester, where Klopp's Anfield predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, is seeking to put clear daylight between his current team and his former one.
Then it is a flight to Budapest for the resumption of Champions League duties against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
And that is quickly followed by a Merseyside derby at Anfield with much more than mere local pride at stake.
It was at Goodison in October that things first started to go wrong for Klopp when Everton keeper Jordan Pickford inflicted season-ending ligament damage on Virgil van Dijk.
Other serious injuries have followed for Liverpool but none have been felt as deeply as the absence of their defensive colossus Van Dijk.
Now they will need to keep their emotions in check for a rematch which most certainly won't be for the faint-hearted.
Never in their wildest dreams did Liverpool supporters imagine they would be in danger of being overhauled by the team that has been living in their Merseyside shadow for more than 30 years. But boss Carlo Ancelotti's Everton are just three points behind the Reds with two games in hand.
And they will make the short journey across Stanley Park a week tomorrow knowing that Fortress Anfield has been well and truly breached in recent games.
No one has suffered from the absence of match-going supporters more than Klopp, whose personal connection with the Kop has been a constant source of energy for the demonstrative German.
So it is understandable if the loss of his mother has left him feeling emotionally drained as his personal and professional issues continue to pile up.
Klopp-watchers claim that six years of heavy-metal football have left him exhausted and in need of a break.
And now stories are beginning to emerge of behind-the-scenes issues regarding the club's recent transfer dealings.
Owners Fenway Sports believe they have been generous in funding the signings of Van Dijk, Alisson, Mo Salah, Gini Wijnaldum and Fabinho which allowed Liverpool to win the Champions League and Premier League.
But the level of investment has fallen dramatically since the summer of 2018, leaving boss Klopp with a comparative lack of squad depth which left him exposed to this season's injury crisis.
It is still more than likely that Liverpool will finish in the top four this season – and they will obviously improve when Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Diogo Jota and Joel Matip return from their long-term injuries.
Yet it is clear that a major overhaul is required this summer if they are to avoid becoming one-term champions.
The question is, do Klopp and the owners still have the appetite for the rebuilding job?
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