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I didn’t want to eat or see or speak to anyone as a Premier League manager… I understand Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool exit

TO the outside world, Jurgen Klopp looks like a manager who’s got it made.

Adored by the fans, his team on top of the table, already in one final with maybe more to come and a fantastic journey that’s been full of highs and very few lows.

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EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists (outside the EU), club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images (+15 in extra time). No use to emulate moving images. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications/services. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ian Stephen/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock (14315064cf) Liverpool manager […]Credit: Rex
TRING, ENGLAND – JUNE 10: Harry Redknapp of England during a Soccer Aid for Unicef 2022 Training Session at Champneys Tring on June 10, 2022 in Tring, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

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TRING, ENGLAND – JUNE 10: Harry Redknapp of England during a Soccer Aid for Unicef 2022 Training Session at Champneys Tring on June 10, 2022 in Tring, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)Credit: Getty

So if anything tells you about the pressures of the job, it’s Jurgen’s decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season.

I must admit I never saw it coming . . . but I can also totally understand him, because it’s impossible to explain what every manager works under every day.

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I know that feeling of carrying the responsibility of an entire club on your shoulders. Everyone who’s been in Jurgen’s position does.

It’s difficult for people to understand. They just see a manager — especially at a big club — and think ‘he’s earning so much money, how can that be true’. But it is, believe me.

The pressure is incredible. It’s relentless, constant, every minute of every day. The buck stops with you, not your assistant, not your players, but you.

In the early days when I’d first gone to West Ham, and we were in a relegation battle, I’d be lying on the settee, just staring at the ceiling.

Sandra was still living back home in Bournemouth, I was in a little flat by the training ground, and at times I’d be really, really low.

I didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to see anyone or speak to anyone. It was absolutely crazy. I honestly think I was close to cracking up.

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When you get a win on a Saturday, there is no feeling like it. It really is the best in the world.

I’d be driving home punching the air, the radio would be turned up and I’d be singing along to anything and everything.

But when the opposite happened, I’d be absolutely at rock bottom. I couldn’t face going out because I didn’t want to see anyone, to bump into people.

I look back and think ‘my god, how low was I getting?’

When I think about it, I must have been very close to having a breakdown.

Sometimes I’d go home and be so down. Only now do I realise how close I must have been to the edge, because it’s a feeling you come to accept as being part of the job, part of your life.

In one spell when I was away from the club, my assistant was running things for a while and it aged him ten years!

I didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to see anyone or speak to anyone. It was absolutely crazy. I honestly think I was close to cracking up.

Harry Redknapp on managing West Ham through relegation battle

You have your assistant, you can be really close, but they don’t feel it the same. The buck stops with the manager, end of.

And however much a player cares, it really doesn’t compare. Of course you’re down if you lose, but then you go out with your mates or for dinner with your family and that’s it.

As a manager, it stays with you. Every day is a real challenge, and not just what happens on the pitch.

Maybe a player who’s got an issue at home, a kid from the youth team who’s smashed his car up or in trouble . . . there’s always something beyond football.

It’s the fans, the club, the whole business. Everything is on your shoulders and there’s no escaping it, it’s scary.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re standing there in front of 50,000 or a few hundred, at whatever level the pressure is the same.

You want to win, you want to be a success, you dread being seen as a failure. That’s on you all the time.

‘I certainly didn’t see the signs’

Well there’s no way Jurgen has been a failure. Yes, there have been some disappointments, some defeats, but really it has been all about the ups, not downs.

I looked at him after the Carabao Cup game at Fulham in midweek, and he was laughing, looking forward to going to another final.

He’s been bringing the kids through, beaming that big smile of his, and you’d imagine his life as a football manager couldn’t be better.

Liverpool are top of the league and he’s absolutely adored by the fans. He’s done an amazing job, built an incredible team, and everything is going forwards.

Maybe Jurgen thinks the players need to hear a new voice, and now wants a break to recharge his batteries and enjoy life for a year or so.

There’s no doubt that when he does come back, he’ll have the choice of some of the best jobs in the business.

He’s certainly leaving a great club in a great position.

It just goes to show that you never know what is going on underneath. I certainly didn’t see the signs.

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