Liverpool’s worrying start to the season continued on Saturday, and the latest defeat has been followed by claims of a falling-out between Jurgen Klopp and Jordan Henderson.
Club captain Henderson was left on the bench by Klopp for Saturday’s defeat against Nottingham Forest, despite the Reds losing Thiago Alcantara to an ear infection in the lead-up to the game. While neither player nor manager has hinted at any disagreement, former England midfielder Paul Scholes has suggested things aren’t quite right between the pair.
“He has Jordan Henderson on the bench, he should be playing,” Scholes told Premier League Productions. “He is the leader of the team. He’s the captain and the one, the Casemiro type of role, and he gets everyone ticking around.
“He seems to have fallen out with him or carrying an injury. There is something not quite right there.”
An injury could be behind the omission, or Klopp may have simply opted to rotate his squad. In other cases, though, things appeared to be a little more clear-cut when it comes to the relationship between player and manager.
Klopp has tended to have a good relationship with members of the Liverpool squad, but that hasn’t always been the case. Here, Mirror Football has taken a look at a few examples.
Mamadou Sakho was an important presence in Jurgen Klopp’s first season at Liverpool, helping the Reds make progress as they reached the final of the Europa League. A drug test controversy derailed his campaign, though, and things would later go south in a different way.
The French international had been part of Liverpool’s squad for their pre-season tour of the United States but was sent home early. And it soon emerged that all appeared not quite right between Sakho and Klopp.
There was speculation about the defender arriving late for a flight, while Sakho also appeared to anger the manager by interrupting an interview on Alcatraz Island. Whatever the reason, and it may have been a multitude of reasons, the former PSG man had played his final game for Liverpool.
“I have just one question,” Sakho said while Klopp was on camera. “How long do you think you can live here?”
“Actually I don’t have to think about it. You should think about it,” was the reply, which was said – apparently – in jest. “Because only one of us came late last night, for departure in Liverpool. It was not me.”
Sakho was forced to play for the reserves for the first half of the 2016-17 season before moving on loan to Crystal Palace in January. He joined the Eagles at the end of the season, unable to reclaim his spot under Klopp.
Swiss international Shaqiri was one of a number of players brought to Anfield by Klopp who helped the Reds kick on. It wasn’t always plain sailing, though, as he learned in 2018.
Shaqiri had only been at Liverpool for a few months when he incurred the wrath of his manager during a League Cup game against Chelsea. The Merseyside club had thrown away a lead to lose to the Blues, and Klopp was seen marching over to the former Stoke man at full-time.
Klopp explained after the game that a free kick was the source of the disagreement. He had apparently wanted Shaqiri to deliver as the Reds chased an equaliser, and he made this clear.
“I spoke about a free-kick – the last one,” the manager explained. “Mo was standing wide and a whole bunch of players were in one direction where we shot the ball.
“If he could have played in Mo on a one-on-one situation in the last minute of the game it would have been not too bad. It was only about the free-kick, nothing else.”
Shaqiri would eventually get himself back in Klopp’s good books, though, helping Liverpool reach the Champions League final with a memorable comeback against Barcelona. On that occasion there were few worries about the end result.
Jordon Ibe had been making progress at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers. However, after some positive early signs under Klopp, he was eventually offloaded to Bournemouth.
Three months without a Premier League start in the 2015-16 season prompted questions about the manager’s relationship with a player who joined the Reds as a teenager. He played down suggestions of a rift, but the player was still moved on soon after.
“I heard from somewhere that Jordon has some problems with me or something?” Klopp said in April 2016. “Absolutely not.
“Only a few young players can come up, and sometimes they are in the squad, sometimes not. He’s still a brilliant, big, big talent which is very good for English football. He did well today with the pass for the first goal and the cross for the second. I was very happy.”
When Ibe moved to Bournemouth, though, he made particular mention of Klopp’s predecessor at Anfield. They play the same football as Brendan Rodgers used to play so I like the style of play and the philosophy the manager has got,” he said.
Mario Balotelli was never given much of a chance by Klopp at Liverpool. The Italian was out on loan in the 2015-16 season, and Klopp showed no signs of wanting to reintegrate him when he returned.
“He’s not at the stage of his career where he should be battling with four or five other players for one or two positions,” the manager said in July 2016, as reported by the Liverpool Echo. Sure enough, Balotelli moved to Nice that same summer, but his version of events shed more light on things.
“Klopp doesn’t know me, Balotelli told Sky Italia after his move to France. “I spoke to him once, he told me to go somewhere else, work hard and then return. So I said goodbye to them, and that we wouldn’t be seeing each other again.”
Balotelli didn’t blame Klopp for things not working out for him at Anfield. He did, however, accept Liverpool was the wrong move for him after injuries hindered his early progress and he never managed to pull things back.
Virgil van Dijk
Things were mostly positive for Liverpool in the 2021-22 season, with the Reds fighting for honours on four fronts until May. There were frustrating moments, though, not least when Klopp’s team threw away a two-goal lead at home to Brighton in October.
Klopp was seen screaming abuse at centre-back Virgil van Dijk from the sidelines after goals from Enock Mwepu and Leandro Trossard denied the Reds victory. To his credit, Van Dijk appeared to accept the criticism and get on with things.
Liverpool had another frustrating game at home to the Seagulls this season, drawing 3-3 after some worrying defending. “I spoke to the boys in a similar way to how I speak to you. I don’t know how many times I have to say we need a reaction,” he said.
“The first goal has an impact on both teams. They were flying and we were somewhere in between. They used that for the second goal.
“We could have defended much better. It’s football and you have to accept it. On a day like this when it starts like this, it’s important to fight your way through.”