Liverpool: How important is Zeljko Buvac to the club?
With Jurgen Klopp’s right-hand man taking time away for the remainder of the season, questions will be raised about the long-term effect of his departure.
(Photo credit: Reuters/Craig Brough)
On Monday morning, Liverpool fans woke up to the news that the club’s assistant manager, Zeljko Buvac, has decided to ‘take time away’ from the Merseyside club til the end of the season.
With an impending Champions League semi-final second leg rapidly approaching on Wednesday, this might seem to be a bad indicator for Liverpool.
But how much impact will this decision really have on the side?
What we know
In a press release on Monday, Liverpool clarified Buvac’s position: “Zeljko is spending some time away from the first-team environment, between now and the end of the season, for personal reasons.
“The club considers the matter to be private and therefore will respect that privacy by not making any further comment.
“Zeljko remains a Liverpool employee and his position at the club is not affected by this absence.”
So far, so clear. Buvac will remain an employee of the club until further notice.
A tempestuous relationship
Whilst it is unhelpful to speculate on what has prompted this decision by Liverpool’s assistant manager, it is clear that the relationship between Jurgen Klopp and his right-hand man has been a stormy one.
Klopp and Buvac have been close friends since playing together at Mainz in Germany, where the Bosnian became an assistant to Klopp before following him to Borussia Dortmund and, subsequently, Liverpool.
However, as Raphael Honigstein has been quick to point out on Twitter, the relationship between the two “has been volatile at times. They’re both impulsive characters but always came back together eventually.”
” Him and Klopp have had huge rows before but always made up. This might not be the end of the story. Short-term effect is negligible but Klopp will want somebody else to bounce ideas off next season if he doesn’t come back.”
While Raphael Honigstein has noted that the short-term effect of this departure is likely to be negligible, it is important to question what effect it could have.
Jurgen Klopp has referred to Buvac as his ‘brain’ on a number of occasions when questioned about the Bosnian’s role in the Liverpool set up.
In 2013, Nuri Sahin claimed that Buvac was ‘basically Klopp’s twin’ with both seeing football ‘in exactly the same way’.
Buvac, then, is clearly a tactical influence on Klopp which, for the short-term, should not present too much of an effect.
At this point of the season, Klopp will have a good idea of how he wants to set up in the last two Champions League matches available to him and the final two Premier League games.
In the long run, though, the impact of this breakdown could be more impactful at Anfield.
Buvac has been there at every step of Klopp’s managerial career from his earliest forays into management at Mainz, through Dortmund and now to the very brink of the Champions League final.
This should not be understated. It would be unrealistic to limit Buvac’s influence simply to the tactical. He will also be a steadying presence at the side of the German coach.
Should this departure prove to be permanent, his successor might not be able to bring out the best in him in a more holistic sense.
What do you think? Should Jurgen Klopp seek to heal any rift their might be with Zeljko Buvac? Let us know your thoughts below.