Liverpool, Wolves & Jurgen Klopp’s euphoric 8-year rollercoaster ride

The day we all hoped would never come is finally upon us. After eight-and-a-half whirlwind years, Liverpool Football Club will bid farewell to the man who has returned them to the pinnacle of European football, Jurgen Klopp.

For a final time, the German will occupy the Anfield dugout when his Liverpool side welcome Wolves to L4 on Sunday.

While the final weeks of the 2023/2024 season haven’t exactly gone as we all hoped, the occasion will provide fans with an opportunity to wave off a true Kop legend who has seen it all since he first joined back in October 2015.

This won’t be our first time hosting Wolves on the final day of the campaign, however. The Midlanders have visited twice before on the final weekend during Klopp’s tenure, including at the end of the 2018/2019 campaign.

That match was also greeted with heightened anticipation, albeit for different reasons.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 12, 2019: Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the second goal during the final FA Premier League match of the season between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Back in May 2019, Liverpool headed into the final day knowing victory could see them crowned Premier League champions for the first time, depending on Man City’s result down South.

Though we would ultimately come up short, the timeline of events both before, during and after the match perfectly typifies the rollercoaster journey we’ve all been on since the German’s appointment.

The lowest of lows only made us ever more grateful for the highs, moments which will forever remain engrained in our minds when we reflect on this era in years to come.

The experiences and the Reds’ reactions to them only deepened the bond between the eleven on the pitch, the man at the helm and the thousands in the stands.


Wolves at Anfield, City at Brighton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 12, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah with the golden boot for being joint top scorer for Liverpool after the final FA Premier League match of the season between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A truly remarkable season was approaching its conclusion, but whether Liverpool would capture their first major trophy under Klopp was still up in the air.

An astonishing performance on the domestic front, which had already seen the Reds secure 94 points across 37 matches was only enough to leave them second in the Premier League table, one point behind league leaders Man City on 95.

The Citizens were set for the long journey down to Brighton‘s Amex Stadium. Though Pep Guardiola’s men dropping points was unlikely, Liverpool were poised and ready to pounce should an opportunity present itself.

Klopp’s men needed little encouragement. In the 17th minute at Anfield, Sadio Mane met Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s cross to fire home in front of the Kop.

As things stood, the Reds were top of the Premier League. Your move, City.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 12, 2019: Liverpool supporters check the score of the Brighton & Hove Albion versus Manchester City match on their smart phones during the final FA Premier League match of the season between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Liverpool doing their part, jubilation turned to near disbelief on Merseyside when news began to filter through that Brighton had taken a lead over the reigning champions.

The impossible, suddenly, appeared possible. There was still lots of football to be played, but could Klopp and Co. add another chapter, a defining chapter, to an already extraordinary season?

Yes, they could, and would. But not on this day. In typical City fashion, the champions were level within a minute of Brighton‘s opener.

Sergio Aguero, who had captured his club’s first-ever Premier League title seven years before, equalised at the Amex and paved the way for a comfortable City victory.

Guardiola’s men would eventually romp to a 4-1 win, securing back-to-back league titles in the process.


Jurgen brings the ‘big two’ home

Anfield, Liverpool, UK. 7th May, 2019. UEFA Champions League football, semi final second leg, Liverpool versus FC Barcelona; Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates after the final whistle with Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool in front of the Kop as they sing You'll Never Walk Alone Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News

Liverpool did their job, eventually winning 2-0 courtesy of another Mane strike in the second half, but ultimately the result, and the 97 points they had captured, wouldn’t prove enough.

Many sides would allow their heads to drop under such circumstances, but not Jurgen’s Liverpool.

For them, the season was not over. There was still a Champions League final to be played as Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham awaited in Madrid.

Twelve months on from losing the previous year’s final in heart-breaking fashion, the Reds would have to pick themselves up from the league disappointment as they looked to capture a sixth European Cup.

No small task, but this side was different to most. They had proven that five days before the Wolves clash, in a Champions League semi-final return against Barcelona. Despite a commendable performance at the Nou Camp six days before, the Reds left having been beaten 3-0 courtesy of a Luis Suarez strike and Lionel Messi double.

Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), JUNE 1, 2019 - Football / Soccer : UEFA Champions League final match Tottenham Hotspur FC 0-2 Liverpool FC at Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by D.Nakashima/AFLO)

The thought of going trophyless after all they had achieved was an unbearable thought for the Liverpool fanbase, but a comeback looked even less likely when both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were ruled out of the second leg through injury.

Most had written the Reds off, except the man at the helm. “I would say it’s impossible, but because it’s you, we have a chance,” Klopp would tell his side ahead of kick-off.

They did have a chance. To be specific, they had four. And they took them all to seal a historic 4-0 victory that stands as one of, if not the greatest, Anfield has ever seen. Suddenly, the league predicament became a little easier to swallow.

The Reds carried the momentum forward into and beyond the Wolves game to eventually secure a 2-0 win over Spurs in the Spanish capital. Finally, in their fourth final under the German, Liverpool had won a major trophy under his stewardship.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 2, 2019: Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson holds the Champions League Trophy during an open-top bus parade through the city after winning the UEFA Champions League Final. Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur. 2-0 in Madrid. To claim their sixth European Cup. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

With all the heartbreak that had come before – in Kyiv and missing out on the league title in agonising fashion – the Reds’ triumph was made all the more joyous for it.

The spirit shown during this period perfectly encapsulates Klopp’s reign. A journey, wrought with ups and downs, which ultimately gave us all the ride of a lifetime.

Liverpool not only overcame their suffering during low points but found purpose in it. They used them to propel themselves further towards their goals, to push themselves on with a stubbornness and vigour that only champions can be made of.

One need only look at the following season for further evidence.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 22, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp (L) and assistant manager Peter Krawietz celebrate on the podium during the trophy presentation as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After being within touching distance of a first league title in over three decades, the Reds went one better in 2019/20. Winning 26 of their opening 27 matches of the season, Liverpool would finally win the Premier League for the first time.

Klopp saw his name added to an illustrious list of managers to win league titles throughout the club’s history and made good on a promise he’d made when first putting pen to paper with the Reds over eight years ago.

“When I sit here in four years, I think we’ll have won one title during this time,” he said in his announcement press conference.

And there Liverpool was, in his fourth full season as manager, perched atop England’s top division once again.


More lows, followed by more highs

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 22, 2022: Liverpool'selebrates after scoring the second goalhamed Salah cg2 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite a difficult 2020/21 season, Liverpool would dust themselves off during the final 10 games to secure a third-placed finish, despite playing a large majority without any first-team centre-backs available.

The following year would see a League Cup and FA Cup double. Even a quadruple looked a strong possibility, only for City to tease the Reds once again on the final day by going 2-0 down against Aston Villa before eventually winning 3-2.

Another league title for Guardiola’s men coincided with a Liverpool victory over Wolves at Anfield.

And once again, they were granted an opportunity to make history in the weeks that followed.

Another Champions League final, this time against Real Madrid in Paris, was scheduled, but the occasion wasn’t to be for Klopp’s side.

PARIS, FRANCE - Saturday, May 28, 2022: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' looks dejected at the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League Final game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF at the Stade de France. Real Madrid won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite dominating much of the affair, a Vinicius Jr goal was enough to see Los Blancos capture a record 14th European Cup and leave Liverpool pondering about what could have been.

The result saw the start of a difficult period during Klopp’s tenure.

Liverpool struggled to replicate their strong form from the previous year into the 2022/23 season. Missing out on Champions League football for the first time since 2016, the Reds languished to a fifth-place finish and would have to settle for a place in the Europa League.

The manager later revealed he had been tempted to bow out midway through the season but was convinced to stay by his wife, Ulla. Determined to leave the club in as strong a position as possible, the German decided to have one last push in the Anfield hotseat.

Deep down inside, he refused to give in once again. In typical Klopp fashion.

“It’s not so important what people think when you come in, it’s much more important what people think when you leave.” – Jurgen Klopp, 2015.

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool singing the Liverpool anthem at the end of the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on February 25, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

This season was viewed as an opportunity to bed in fresh acquisitions. Talk of a title charge seemed out of the question, yet Liverpool headed into March in a three-way race for the league.

Results in April, however, saw three turn to two as the Reds dropped crucial points at Old Trafford, Goodison Park and suffered a rare loss at Anfield to mid-table Crystal Palace.

Disappointment in the FA Cup and Europa League meant they would have to settle for a League Cup triumph back in February, when Klopp’s men, or boys in this instance, battled across 120 hard-fought minutes against another Pochettino side.

For a season which offered so much promise to end in this way is a tough pill to swallow, particularly given the context of Jurgen’s impending departure.

However, no rollercoaster ends on a high but leaves one chomping at the bit for one last ride. To experience the euphoria all over again. That’s how we, as fans, feel right now.

As we feel the safety bar release from around our chest and come to terms with the fact that we are unable to strap ourselves back in for another lap.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 5, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp waves to supporters after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-2. (Photo by Ryan Brown/Propaganda)

We laugh and cheer when recollecting the highs of Madrid, of lifting our first Premier League title and of glory-filled days at Wembley Stadium.

And we also chuckle at the lows, where the coaster looked as though it had gone spiralling off-track never to return, only to be steered back in the right direction by a man who had been seeing the bigger picture all along.

That is why we must enjoy Jurgen’s final Anfield outing on Sunday, as painful as it may be to say goodbye. For he, whenever faced with adversity as our manager, has always smiled through it all and shown what a real champion’s spirit looks like.

Goodbyes are tough but can also be a celebration of all that has come before. And there has been plenty for us to celebrate under the guidance of Jurgen Norbert Klopp.

* This is a guest article for This Is Anfield by Brad Walker. Follow Brad on Twitter, @brad_TWalker.