Liverpool’s team bus had probably just rolled back into Merseyside when the scurrilous messages began to spread.
After a 3-1 defeat to Leicester on February 13 – and an apparently emotional acceptance that the Premier League title would not be his for much longer – Jurgen Klopp, it was wildly speculated, was ready to throw the towel in.
WhatsApp messages were forwarded, Twitter rumours were retweeted and a sensational, baseless claim gathered traction.
The rumours, though, didn’t stop there.
Doctored conversations that revealed an alleged fight between Andy Robertson and Alisson Becker in the King Power dressing room were also passed on as a matter of fact.
The most absurd of rumours suddenly had a fanbase gripped by fear.
One well-known sports website even described the pranksters’ work as ‘reports’ – despite the fact the unsubstantiated and downright falsified rumour was being made outside of any media outlet.
The ECHO’s inboxes, across all platforms, were inundated with supporters desperate to be told Klopp’s departure was a hoax.
Of course, it was.
That Klopp was even forced to respond to such nonsense gave the theories the smidgen of credence they didn’t deserve, but the Liverpool boss was at least able to ease panicking minds.
“Rumours of me quitting or taking a break? Neither [is true],” Klopp said in a press conference a few days later. “I don’t need a break.”
One month on from his apparently impending exit, Klopp remains firmly in charge at Liverpool Football Club.
But again, questions – this time of a more legitimate nature – over his future have surfaced.
With Germany boss Joachim Low announcing his decision to step down after 15 years as manager, the door has been flung open for Klopp.
Given the capitulation of his side’s ambitions, particularly since Christmas, the idea of a new role might appeal for the Reds boss.
That was the train of thought from those glancing in from the outside, at least.
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“Am I available for the job of the national team in the summer? No,” said Klopp about the potential for a return to his homeland on Tuesday.
“After the summer, no. I said no, this or after this summer, whatever it may be, I will not be available as a potential Germany team coach.
“I have three years left at Liverpool. It’s a simple statement. You sign a contract and you try to stick to that contract, don’t you?”
But still talk of Klopp’s future goes on.
Despite his continued dismissal of the question, the identity of his replacement is all too readily spoken about.
Steven Gerrard is the new favourite after he ended a near decade-long dominance of Celtic by guiding Rangers to the Scottish Premiership title last week.
Almost since his first day on the job at Ibrox, the Liverpool question has hung over Gerrard.
“I get this question a lot about where I want to end up and what is the ambition and the dream – the dream for me is to just win the next football match,” he told the ECHO in 2019.
It is one he has constantly had to fend off, sidestep or tackle on head on during his time north of the border.
“The Liverpool fans don’t want me to be the manager of Liverpool Football Club,” he said this week.
“They want Jurgen Klopp to continue to be the Liverpool manager – and I’m totally with all of them.”
Gerrard, if he continues his trajectory, will be firmly in the conversation when Klopp decides he wants to vacate the Anfield hot seat.
That, though, will not be happening just yet.
“In my understanding, I will be here for the next three years,” Klopp added on the matter this week.
It’s a peculiar quirk of the German’s position that for all his success and achievements at Anfield, talk of his successor is never too far away.
No other manager seemingly has to deal with such an issue.
Whether it is through social media mischief or more legitimate developments across planet football, the idea of a Liverpool-less Klopp is aired more frequently than it should be.
It’s a strange fixation that needs to rest for now. Klopp is going nowhere anytime soon.