Exclusive – Former Liverpool favourite John Arne Riise has backed his old teammate Steven Gerrard to take over as the manager at Anfield. However, he caveated his claim by predicting that Jurgen Klopp has a ‘few years’ left at the club before handing over the reins.
Riise spent seven years at Liverpool between 2001 and 2008, making 348 appearances for the club as a left back and occasional winger.
The 40-year-old former Norway international was part of the famous Reds side that won the Champions League in 2005 under Rafa Benitez, while Gerrard was captain.
Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League round of 16 second leg against RB Leipzig on Wednesday night, Riise spoke to 90min about his former captain’s title-winning managerial work at Rangers and whether he will eventually be offered the Liverpool gig.
“I texted him yesterday when it was confirmed that they won the league,” Riise said. “I texted him a few times during the season because he and Carra were the two players from Liverpool I knew most, because I was there for seven years and they were there all the way.
“It’s a massive job he’s done. He’s a hard worker, maybe the hardest worker… When he wants something he goes all in for it and he wants to be a successful manager.
“People can say he’s inexperienced as a manager but Steven Gerrard is a winner. He was as a player. He knows what he wants and he has a great team around him.
“So when Klopp decides to part ways with Liverpool, whether that’s one, two, three or four years, I’m quite sure Stevie’s going to get offered a job and I’m quite sure he’s going to say yes to it.
“I think Stevie is going to be the next Liverpool manager when Klopp decides to say ‘my time is over’, but I think Klopp is going to stay for a few more years.
“I think Klopp is looking at it as the biggest challenge of his career to turn things around for next season. I think he would love that challenge and I think he would love to prove the critics wrong next season.”
Riise also added his hope that Klopp, whose contract expires in 2024, will continue to stay at Anfield as long as possible despite the recent downturn in results, which has seen Liverpool lose six in a row at home in the Premier League.
“What Klopp has done for Liverpool Football Club and European football in general is unbelievable,” he said.
“Don’t let him go easily… If he wants to go himself and he has good reasons for it, OK, but apart from that, keep him as long as you can because Klopp is special.”
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