On the 8th October, a mere 4 days after the sacking of Brendan Rodgers by FSG, Jürgen Klopp was appointed as the new manager of Liverpool Football Club. The charismatic predecessor to Rodgers has already become a cult hero in the Kop, with a furore unmatched perhaps even by the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea 11 years ago.
When Klopp was said to have first arrived in Liverpool, an unfortunate look-a-like in the wrong place at the wrong time became instantly mobbed. Then, on his first day as manager, Twitter erupted when the man himself was spotted having a casual pint at a pub. A parody twitter account named “Comical Klopp” was subsequently created. Expectation has fuelled the frenzy and the frenzy has fuelled expectation. But, who actually is Klopp? And what can Liverpool expect from now on?
Name: Jürgen Norbert Klopp
Age: 48 (DOB 16th June 1967)
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
Club: FSV Mainz 05 (1990-2001)
Position: Defender (Striker until 1995)
FSV Mainz 05: 2001-07
Borussia Dortmund: 2008-15
Bundesliga: 2011-12, 2012-13
German Cup: 2011-12
German Supercup: 2008, 2013, 2014
Champions League: (Runners up) 2012-13
German Manager of the Year: 2011, 2012
FIFA World Coach of the Year: (2nd place) 2013
What to Expect?
Klopp has laid a lot of emphasis in the past on his hatred of boring football. As a result, we can expect not to see Mourinho-esque bus parking by Liverpool teams under his reign. In this sense his philosophy fits perfectly into the Merseyside mould. Meanwhile in the transfer arena, Liverpool fans can be hopeful of an improvement on the Rodgers era.
Klopp immediately insisted upon becoming Liverpool manager that navigating the politics of the infamous transfer committee won’t be an issue. Whether he could ever have said something different is debatable, but he did rather simplify the issue for everyone when he stated that so long as he has the first and last word on every deal, (something one assumes shouldn’t be too difficult), then there won’t be a problem.
Indeed the transfers he made at Dortmund are quite astonishing. The list includes Robert Lewandowski (perhaps the world’s best striker at present), bought for a mere £3.3million. On top of that signing he also brought in for Dortmund, Shinji Kagawa and Lukasz Piszczek, both for nothing, Mats Hummels for £2.9million, Neven Subotic for £3.15million and Ilkay Gundogan for £3.85million. That’s not forgetting Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and Immobile for a cumulative £53.27million. In short, he acquired all these 10 players for the same amount Liverpool paid for Lallana, Lovren and Markovic.
Klopp’s record at Dortmund speaks for itself. Consider that, coupled with his effervescent personality, and the attention surrounding his arrival onto the stage of English football shouldn’t be a surprise. For Liverpool fans though, it would pay dividends not to allow themselves to get too excited.
In his first interview as Liverpool boss, Klopp hit the nail on the head when he stated everyone associated with Liverpool “must turn from doubters, to believers, now.”
BBC sport noted on the 8th October that the job Klopp took on at Dortmund was one of a “gradual, steady improvement rather than a quick fix.” His job at Liverpool will be the same. Liverpool simply must recognise this. His record might be impressive, and Liverpool fans should believe, but Klopp is no miracle maker. Something he himself has been keen to point out. Saturday’s rather anti-climactic bore draw at White Hart Lane shows the work has only just begun. Meanwhile another draw on the 22nd versus Rubin Kazan, (the 6th such result in Liverpool’s last 8 games) has proven that changing the manager cannot instigate instant improvement on the pitch. Some will use it as proof Rodgers wasn’t the cause of Liverpool’s woes, but that is another story.
In sticking with Rodgers at the start of this season Liverpool’s owners showed a commitment to his cause. Through their U-turn on the 4th October, they showed to the world, Klopp included, that they had become doubters. Klopp’s message to believe in his first interview as boss should strike a chord with the owners as much as with the fans. This time round, they must stick with their man.
Klopp, unlike Rodgers, is a proven winner already. His philosophy of exciting, “rock star football”, coupled with his record of building Dortmund up from mid-table obscurity, is precisely what Liverpool need. Hiring Rodgers when they did, with his obvious lack of experience, was a gamble. Hiring Klopp simply isn’t. Given real time he will succeed. Liverpool must believe it. Even if early results threaten to sow the seeds of doubt. Liverpool cannot let such seeds be planted again.