LIVERPOOL: Moments after the final whistle blew on Jurgen Klopp’s managerial career at Liverpool, the much-loved German encouraged the Anfield faithful to celebrate the moment, but embrace the future.

Klopp flashed his huge smile throughout a long address to fans after Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in Sunday’s emotional Premier League season finale, and even led the crowd in a song for incoming manager Arne Slot, who has enormous shoes to fill.

“Change is good,” the 56-year-old Klopp told the crowd. “And you never know exactly what to expect, but if you go with the right attitude into that, then everything will be fine.

“What I want you to sing, I have an idea,” he added, then launched loudly into: “Arne Slot! Na, na, na, na, na!” The crowd sang along.

On a day Liverpool fans had been dreading since Klopp announced in late-January he would leave at season’s end, the manager sounded genuinely happy rather than heartbroken.

“It doesn’t feel like an end. It just feels like the start, because I saw today a football team playing full of talent, youth, creativity, desire, greed,” he said.

“In these few weeks where I have had too much attention, I realised a lot of things. People say I turned them from doubters into believers. That’s not true.

“I just said we have to. You did it. Nobody tells you to stop believing. This club is in a better moment than a long time. We have this wonderful stadium, training centre and you — the superpower of world football. Wow.”

Klopp’s team, who were on course to give their manager a fairytale ending before a string of bad results last month derailed their title challenge, finished the season third in the table on 82 points, nine behind winners Manchester City and seven behind second-placed Arsenal.

Klopp bade farewell to the Anfield faithful having won 305 matches, including penalty shootouts, since joining the Reds in 2015, plus seven trophies including the Champions League in 2019 and a first English League title in three decades in 2020.

But he was loved as much for his charisma and passion as his on-field success and it was on full display on Sunday. He was saluted with a guard of honour in the post-game celebrations, and after pausing to wrap an emotional captain Virgil van Dijk in a bear hug, he turned and ran through it again.

“It’s a very emotional day,” Van Dijk told Sky Sports. “(Klopp) deserves every bit of love that he’s getting.”

Tears rolled down defender Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cheeks while the team stood arm-in-arm and the fans serenaded them with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

“I’ve never seen or experienced someone who can inspire or motivate with a click of his fingers,” Alexander-Arnold told Sky. “If he told me today it was snowing outside, I’d believe him — that’s probably the best way of putting it.”

Klopp famously introduced himself as “the normal one” in his first Liverpool press conference after his hiring, “but he’s definitely a special one for us for the players who played under his leadership,” the team’s Brazilian keeper Alisson Becker said.

“His passion, his desire to win things, to achieve things … but he thinks about the personal side also, he wanted to do everything to make the players feel good to play for his team. I have so many good memories.”

While Klopp’s departure announcement sent shock waves through the football world, the manager said he felt a sense of relief around his decision. His energy for the job was waning, he said. He could not do it on “three wheels.”

He looks forward, he told Sunday’s crowd, to throwing his energy into being a fan.

“Obviously I saw a lot of people crying and I will tonight too because I will miss people but change is good,” he said.

“You welcome the new manager like you welcomed me. You go all in from the first day. You keep believing. You push the team. I’m one of you now. I love you to bits.”

Before the final curtain came down on his time with the Merseyside club, Klopp ran the length of the Anfield pitch for one final round of fist pumps with the crowd, and then pointed with two thumbs to the back of his shirt, which read: “I’ll never walk alone again.”

#####