Zeljko Buvac claims he “did the job of a manager” when working with Jurgen Klopp over 17 years, and didn’t congratulate his former partner when Liverpool won the title.
It was a real shock when Buvac suddenly left the Reds in 2018, with no real explanation beyond ‘personal reasons’, and it was initially feared the club may suffer.
Last year, it was claimed that Buvac took issue with the increasing role of Pepijn Lijnders on his return from NEC Nijmegen, with the Dutchman eventually appointed as assistant manager following Buvac’s exit.
But there has, until now, been no word from Klopp’s former No. 2 on why he left the club, and whether his relationship with the Liverpool manager has survived.
Speaking to Russian journalist Nobel Arustamyan, in quotes translated by The Athletic, Buvac hinted at a breakdown in communications with Klopp, and frustration at the role he fulfiled over their 17-year relationship.
“I didn’t,” Buvac said when asked if he had congratulated Klopp or any of his former colleagues at Liverpool when they finally won the title.
“I was happy for Liverpool, for the fans, for the players. But I didn’t.”
It is notable that Buvac failed to mention Klopp when discussing his pride at seeing the Reds lift the Premier League, and as he discussed his reluctance to take up a managerial role, there emerged a hint as to why.
“It felt like I’ve been the manager for all those 17 years,” he said, having taken up the job of sporting director at Dynamo Moscow after also working with Klopp at Mainz and Dortmund.
“I did the job of a manager, except speaking in public and giving interviews.
“Apart from that, I had all the functions and tried to influence my team as much as I could to help them succeed.
“But I didn’t need that kind of attention.”
The suggestion, then, is that Klopp “needs” the spotlight of being the figurehead of a club, whereas Buvac claims he prefers to work behind the scenes.
“I don’t want to be a manager now. If Barcelona calls me then of course I’ll think about it but otherwise no,” he continued.
“You say I’m here just to stay occupied and wait for a better chance, but if you knew what kind of offers I had rejected during the pause in my career you wouldn’t have said that.
“But I won’t tell you which clubs.”