Liverpool assistant Zeljko Buvac stands down for rest of season
Jurgen Klopp will hope a temporary break will allow him to return recharged
Dejan Lovren with Liverpool assistant manager Zeljko Buvac at The Hawthorns. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Buvac, the assistant manager who Klopp has described as “the brain” behind his coaching set-up, is “spending some time away from the first team environment between now and the end of the season” according to Liverpool, who have declined to comment further on what they regard as a private matter.
Liverpool’s players were informed of Buvac’s departure at training on Sunday – just three days before their game at Stadio Olimpico. Though a temporary measure at present, the Bosnian Serb may leave Anfield permanently in the summer.
Buvac met Klopp when they were players at Mainz, where they had a gentleman’s agreement that whoever went into management first would take the other as their assistant. That agreement has held for 17 years – at Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool – and though first team coach Peter Krawietz is also a key part of Klopp’s backroom team it is Buvac who carries greatest influence.
Recently, however, the 56-year-old has cut a distant figure at Melwood and during first team matches. It is this behaviour that led to the coach stepping aside following Saturday’s goalless draw against Stoke City, rather than any specific argument with Klopp, but the timing of his exit represents a significant setback to Liverpool’s preparations for Roma.
The Liverpool manager may hope a temporary break will benefit Buvac and allow him to return recharged for next season, although he now faces the task of guiding the Anfield club towards the Champions League final and a top four finish in the Premier League without the man who has been at his side for the past 17 years.