Liverpool remain in the hunt to send Jurgen Klopp off with a quadruple after beating Norwich 5-2 in the FA Cup on Sunday, with the manager admitting he’d have to be “made of wood” to remain untouched by the affection in which he is held.
Klopp was greeted by an emotional rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before kick-off and banners of thanks in the first match since the German announced his decision to leave at the end of the season.
The 56-year-old said on Friday when he made the shock announcement on his impending departure that he hoped the “best memories were still to come” despite having won the Premier League and Champions League during his time in charge.
Should Liverpool progress to the FA Cup final, Klopp’s final game will be at Wembley and they will be strong favourites to progress to the quarter-finals after being paired at home to Watford or Southampton in the last 16.
“It’s emotional but I have to pull myself together. I received all the messages. I’m not made of wood,” said Klopp on dealing with the emotions of the past few days.
“There will be a moment at the end of the season where we will say ‘goodbye’ and it will be emotional, but between now and then we have a massive job to do.”
Klopp’s opposite number, Norwich boss David Wagner, was the best man at his wedding after the two played together at Mainz.
The pair enjoyed a warm embrace in the tunnel before kick-off, but Liverpool showed no mercy on Wagner’s men despite Klopp giving the chance to some of his youngsters to shine.
James McConnell was handed his full debut in midfield and the 19-year-old set up the opening goal as his teasing delivery was headed in by Curtis Jones at the back post.
Norwich hit back almost immediately as Ben Gibson powered past Alisson Becker from Gabriel Sara’s corner.
Liverpool should still have been out of sight by half-time as Darwin Nunez slotted home his 11th goal of the season after great work down the right by Conor Bradley.
Bradley, who has impressed in recent weeks deputising for Trent Alexander-Arnold, should have had another assist moments later when Cody Gakpo sliced a glorious chance wide.
Ryan Gravenberch then had an effort cleared off the line as Norwich struggled to beat Liverpool’s press as they played out from the back.
The Reds have so far not missed a beat in the absence of Mohamed Salah at the Africa Cup of Nations to move five points clear at the top of the Premier League and in the hunt for three more trophies in the League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League.
Diogo Jota has carried much of the goalscoring burden without Salah and the Portuguese blasted home after Gibson could only head a long ball over the top into his path.
Liverpool’s hopes of going all the way in four competitions were given a huge boost as all of Andy Robertson, Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexander-Arnold made their returns from injury as second-half substitutes.
“It was very important that we could give them minutes,” added Klopp.
“Trent and Dom were not that long out but Robbo was out for a long time and each minute they could get is really important and here it helped to share intensity.”
Szoboszlai’s corner was powered home by Virgil van Dijk to make it 4-1 just after the hour mark.
Borja Sainz’s thunderous effort from outside the box reduced Norwich’s arrears, but the home side fittingly had the final say when Gravenberch added a fifth in stoppage time.
Klopp made a love heart gesture as he was serenaded with a song in his name at full-time in what is sure to be only the start of a long goodbye to his adoring Anfield faithful.