Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he is relieved to have finally made the decision to leave the club at the end of the season.
The German’s standing at Anfield meant it was unlikely he would have ever been sacked and, having already extended his contract two years beyond the seven he served at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, there would probably have been an expectation on him to go beyond 2026.
Klopp could have gone last summer after being physically and emotionally drained by a difficult season which saw Liverpool finish fifth but he chose to stay on in order to put things right.
With the club top of the Premier League and fighting on four fronts he has done that in remarkably quick time but even by November, the 56-year-old knew he had to get out.
“The relief was there when I made the decision for myself. I didn’t know that would be the case,” he said.
“Today it (the feeling) is mixed. I am not as emotional as I will be.
“I have to make the decision at one point, because nobody else will, because of the trust and respect we have for each other and the owners knew I would take the decision.
“I don’t want to hang around and do the job somehow. I thought it through properly.
“I want (to win) everything this season but it wouldn’t change my mind – and if we don’t win anything it wouldn’t change my mind.
“It’s a decision I made independent of any kind of results.”
In his first press conference as Liverpool boss in 2015 Klopp declared himself the ‘normal one’ and he maintains that is who he is despite his high profile.
He insists he has no regrets about any decisions he has taken at Liverpool, with whom he has won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup among a host of titles, but admits he has missed out on life away from football.
“I arrived here like a normal guy and I never lived that,” he added.
“It is three or four weeks in a summer which somehow is fine. Whatever will happen in the future, I don’t know now.
“I don’t know how normal life is so I have to find out.”
Klopp plans to take a year off and then see how he feels but has ruled out a return to management in England.
“Whatever will happen in the future I don’t know now, but no club, no country, for the next year, and no other English club ever,” he said.
“I can promise that, even if I have nothing to eat that will not happen.”
Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso has emerged as the early favourite to succeed Klopp.
The former Liverpool midfielder insists his focus was solely on his current role and that he was in “the right place”.