Never in his adult life has Jürgen Klopp had to deal with the fact of being criticised by someone of any importance to his working life trade and business.
The football player Jürgen Klopp was never really rated as anything else than a decent player who could do his job okay, but he only played for a Bundesliga 2 club, Mainz 05, from 1990 to 2001. As time went on Jürgen Klopp was to become a natural leader within the group of players and also in the club’s offices where coaches and other leading staff members would sit and think and make their decisions, as it is done in any business, big or small.
Klopp swiftly became the new manager of Mainz 05 in February 2001, and did really well. He got the club promoted to Bundesliga 1 for the first time ever in the history of the club, and got them qualified for the 2005 / 06 UEFA Cup. That season the club was relegated from Bundesliga 1. He failed to win promotion straight away, and resigned from his job at the end of the 2007 / 08 season. Jürgen Klopp finished with a record of 109 wins, 78 draws and 83 losses.
Klopp was soon back in the job though after he resigned when he was approached by Borussia Dortmund. He signed a two year contract with a big German club that was struggling as they endured a mid-table period of mediocrisy. Klopp became an instant success in Dortmund, just like Jørn Andersen did in Mainz as he got Klopp’s old club promoted to Bundesliga 1 at the end of the one season he was in charge of Mainz as coach and manager. Andersen was all of a sudden sacked by Mainz 05 just before the Bundesliga 1 season was to kick off, and Thomas Tuchel took over his job. Jørn Andersen’s Mainz 05 story only goes to show instant success is worth nothing if you’re not all that popular.
Jürgen Klopp was always an extremely popular person, and became even more popular as Borussia Dortmund won the German league title in 2010 / 11 and then went on to win the German league and cup double in 2011 / 12 under Klopp’s managerial leadership. In May 2013, Klopp’s club finished as runners up in Bundesliga 1 and also lost the Champions League final against big rival German club Bayern München. Finishing second in the league, Borussia Dortmund lost the German cup final in May 2014. Klopp decided to resign from his job in Dortmund at the end of a 2014 /15 campaign which saw the club finishing seventh in the league and also losing the cup final to Wolfsburg. He finished with a Burussia Dortmund record of 179 wins, 69 draws, and 70 losses.
After a few months on vacation, Klopp was installed as Liverpool’s manager on 8 October 2015, as he replaced Brendan Rodgers who had recently been sacked. His first season in charge at Anfield was a very good season, especially when we knew the club he inherited was a club in lack of any big stars, and he was also installed to replace a manager who had made the club’s new signings in the previous months. Liverpool finished eighth in the Premier League, but reached two cup finals. Liverpool lost the League Cup final at Wembley on penalties, Manchester City winning the match and taking the trophy home. Liverpool lost the Europa League final in Basel, Sevilla winning the match 3-1.
As I write the date is the 24th of August 2016. Throughout the entire summer, Jürgen Klopp has been expected to sign a new left back. It looks as if he wants no other left back than Leicester’s Ben Chilwell, who has signed a new long term contract at King Power Stadium. He has failed to sign a new left back, even though every fan of the club feels there is an urgent need for a new player in that position; either a first class left back with a good record from before or a really good back up player for the ever-erratic Alberto Moreno who is indeed Liverpool’s only left back. Jürgen Klopp has been urged to sign a new left back by the likes of Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise and John Aldridge over the past few months since that very important match in Basel was lost in May in part due to errors made by Alberto Moreno.
Klopp seems to be playing the “I’m acting like I don’t know” game, only to start playing the “I’m acting like I know it all” game next morning. I wonder if manager Klopp ever reads a newspaper like Liverpool Echo and asks himself a question like A year from now what will I wish I had done today? Like, the moment after he has read another column written by a former player like John Aldridge or a regular sports journalist’s article where a player like Jamie Carragher or John Arne Riise is cited as talking about one specific position on the field that needs to be addressed and a new player for that same position be signed as soon as possible. The left back position. I wonder what Klopp’s thoughts came down to when he read what Stan Collymore had written in an online column for BoyleSports, in which he says Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is almost above criticism, then asks a few questions he knows he will probably not be given answers to.
“Is the cult of manager so strong at certain clubs that we all have to blindly wait for Liverpool to show the consistency under a highly-paid, long-contract manager?” Collymore writes.
“I want Liverpool to do well, and I get very excited when Gegenpressing works, but let’s be honest, in the Bundesliga or La Liga it’s in a league where you can roll over teams by just working hard. This is the Premier League, every team does that as a given. Some progress at LFC, but they remind me of Newcastle 1995-96. Great going forward, all over the place going back. As I and the Geordies know all too well, that won’t win you leagues, and in Klopp they have invested in a man to deliver that, not just a smiling ‘everything will be okay tomorrow’ manager.”
What’s more, Stan Collymore also asks good questions about the tactical and inspirational prowess of the manager when he continues.
“I thought against Burnley the Reds showed little real confidence, tempo, pace or belief that Mourinho’s United did for example or Pep’s City. Both of those teams played with the kind of swagger you’d expect from title contenders, but Liverpool just passed the ball from side to side, back to front, without urgency or pace which was supposed to be the hallmark of the Gegenpressing manager. But most aren’t his team Stan, he’s not been there long etc etc’. Neither has Mourinho, Pep and certainly neither was Claudio Ranieri last season. Patience is fine and I’m an advocate of a proper well thought plan but in all honesty, Plan B. What is it?”
Collymore is concerned about the left back position, thinking James Milner can hardly be the best thinkable back up option in that posision on the field, and adds the sale of Christian Benteke as a thing to worry about, plus the fact that Daniel Sturridge might become unsettled at Anfield as Klopp keeps having the striker sitting beside him or behind him on the substitutes bench. Might I myself add another mystery that plenty of fans have been left in confusion and a certain amount of belief stress over: Mamadou Sakho – arguably Liverpool’s very best centre back – being offered to other clubs on a loan deal! One with a time limit, okay, but what can one say about such a thing when the opening two matches of this season has already given all of us every proof needed that a solid and good defender like Mamadou Sakho is very needed at Melwood and Anfield now, and not out on a loan deal? What’s going on? Is Sakho eventually for sale? Has Sakho fallen out with the manager in a very bad way now? Yes, we know he was sent home to Liverpool early as the squad of players was in the USA to train and socialize amongst themselves. Is Klopp now about to allow French defender Mamadou Sakho to leave on a loan deal in order to set an example and play out “The Authoritarian” role to a full 100 per cent or would it be no more than 90 per cent? What’s up? Anything? Nothing? What do we know for certain? Not much. Nothing at all, really.
Jürgen Klopp is certainly playing the secrecy game. He plays that game as he is playing the press conference game every now and then. He says some few things and then leaves a lot to be guessed by those listening to him. And there are millions and millions of those.
It certainly seems as if Klopp has lost some confidence in Alberto Moreno, as he now starts games with the right footed midfielder James Milner in the left back position instead of him. I’ve always believed a proper left back would be signed by the end of August, but Klopp insists this is not going to happen. I can only say I hope Klopp’s stubborn attitude on this little issue will not cost us too many Premier League points, although I know it will cost us quite a few.
Klopp may call himself The Normal One, while he is in fact “The Gambler” or some actor in a famous Spaghetti Western movie called “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, who knows what? I truly like and respect this new manager of ours. He’s a joker, a tough man with a no nonsense attitude, and then also a great player whenever he meets with members of the press.
Klopp wasn’t joking when he simply told that journalist from that “news source” that he didn’t talk to anyone employed by that publication anymore. He simply played that writer out of context.
“You still work for The S*n, right? That’s it, you can listen and you can write what you want. That’s how it is.”
I honestly don’t believe we’re ever going to hear Jürgen Klopp talking to a person working for that publication ever again. That’s how this whole thing was played out two weeks ago, after Liverpool played a friendly at Wembley and defeated a star-studded Barcelona side in front of an audience of 90.000 supporters. Simple matter. Good. And with this guy – a big star German manager – you either play alongside him or you do not play at all.
By now he is a Premier League manager, and he has become that after playing for Mainz, taking a coaching course and getting a diploma when he was still an active player, then played the manager role in Mainz for seven years, in Dortmund for seven years and have recently signed a new contract in Liverpool that might have him stay in the city for seven years all in all. If not even longer than that? Klopp knows his contract can be terminated at the owners’ will, so he also knows he needs to get some serious success to his name in Liverpool as soon as he possibly can, and he will do it his way. His way is the only way he knows, and he will stick to what he knows best and has brought him success from before. But yes, he must also listen to people who know other things than he does. Klopp will not be truly satisfied with a top four finish in the Premier League this season unless we do very well otherwise, winning a cup trophy, and to the very least challenge for the Premier League title until the season is just about to come to an end. It’s just a game, we all know that, but yes: it is serious business, too.
As of August 24, 2016 Klopp’s record as a Liverpool manager stands at 55 games played, 25 wins, 17 draws, and 13 losses. Win percentage: 48.7
I’m guessing Jürgen Klopp’s most important philosophy always placed at rest in his mind is something in the line of a statement such as those who work hard, shall achieve their goal.
While others who dream shall achieve nothing. I certainly don’t know, I’m left guessing. I haven’t talked to him myself and heard him speak his mind to me, so what can I do? Well, I am allowed to be guessing. I believe the man himself – Herr Klopp – will want me to do so, just like he wants every fan to do the same. He is really something. Maybe he should be called The Enigmatic One?
Written by Magne Leonard Karlsen @magneleokarlsen