I HAD never seen Jürgen Klopp in the flesh before he was unveiled as Liverpool’s manager. And there he was: tall, powerfully limbed; dressed immaculately, making Ian Ayre — the person presenting him — look slightly inadequate suddenly.
Like Liverpool managers of the past, Klopp will probably build a team in his image. Roy Evans was nice and his team was too nice. Gérard Houllier was uncompromising and his team was uncompromising. Rafael Benítez, he was stubborn and his team was stubborn. Roy Hodgson was inadequate and his team was inadequate. Brendan Rodgers was a dreamer and his team: well, you get the theme.
So it’s logical to think that Klopp will fashion a side that is emotional, bordering on loopy: one with lots of energy and one that is hard-working and belligerent. We have not quite seen Klopp’s belligerent side in public yet, though I suspect it won’t be long until we do.
When questioned whether Christian Benteke’s absence adds more pressure on Daniel Sturridge before his debut as Liverpool manager at Tottenham last weekend, he leaned forward with his arms folded, as if a headmaster was addressing a gobby pupil. “Have you heard of Origi?” he asked, rolling his tongue on the R of the centre-forward’s surname, as if to emphasise that everyone listening should already know the answer. And then he started to laugh, messing with our minds, like Doctor Hibbert in The Simpsons, who always breaks moments of awkwardness with an inappropriate chuckle.
Klopp must have known about Sturridge’s injury by then. After leaving the room he was told that Danny Ings is likely to miss the rest of the season. Maybe he was sending out a message that he believes in Origi. Maybe he has to because, presently, he’s the only striker available to him.
He stressed after the goalless draw at White Hart Lane that Liverpool does not need a sprinkling of “magic dust” and the comment was significant, certainly in the short-term. What it needs is absolute focus and concentration. Meetings with fan groups like the ones he organised in his first weeks as Borussia Dortmund’s manager are going to have to wait — as are long discussions over recruitment — because Klopp realises he has inherited a squad that is somehow handily placed to make this a campaign to remember considering the start it made under Brendan Rodgers.
It is not for now but eventually Klopp should consider how Liverpool is structured and whether it is set up to achieve sustained success.
I have written in this column before about how other major European clubs have ex-players involved at different levels of operations and how it compares to the way things are at Liverpool, where they only take on ambassadorial roles: turning up for pre-season tours, smiling earnestly into the cameras, shaking hands with rich businessmen or receiving piggy backs in Asian hotel rooms from Ian Ayre, of all the people.
Instead, imagine this: Klopp as Liverpool’s manager, working closely with Jamie Carragher, the sporting director. The pair think alike about football and the way Liverpool people want to see it played. Klopp benefited from a close relationship with Michael Zorc at Dortmund, who like Carragher is a one-club man and a Champions League winner. Carragher and Zorc understand what it takes for success to be realised in the melting pot of a hometown club.
Carragher is clearly happy as a pundit on Sky Sports. And he’s brilliant at it. But that should not put Liverpool off. Given the opportunity, he would surely relish such an essential role; one which does not undermine the manager in any way because Klopp’s personality is so considerable and the fans really want him in charge anyway.
Passion and intelligence is what made him a great player. It’s what makes him a great pundit. Carragher could be Liverpool’s Matthias Sammer. He could become Liverpool’s Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Surely he can’t resist the whiff of front-line football for much longer.
There was a period in his Liverpool career when he could have represented any of Europe’s top clubs. An official high up at AC Milan told me last year that it was Carragher rather than Steven Gerrard that Carlo Ancelotti considered approaching in the aftermath of Liverpool’s Champions League victory over them in 2005. Yet, perhaps like others, Milan were put off trying to recruit Carragher because he seemed so aligned to Liverpool’s cause and, ultimately, so happy.
Carragher would provide football expertise at Liverpool where it is currently lacking. There would be a link between the boardroom (if one really exists at Anfield or even Chapel Street anymore) and the management. He could be the quiet word in Klopp’s ear, the word that Rodgers never received because nobody at Liverpool was capable of offering the appropriate advice. He could help with recruitment — particularly locally — and improve dialogue between Kirkby and Melwood, though that dialogue was apparently healthy before Rodgers’ departure.
This brings me to Steven Gerrard. Imagine him in a management role at Liverpool’s academy, maybe in charge of the Under-21s. Maybe performances and results at that level might begin to mean something. Imagine Gerrard turning up at your door asking your son to play for Liverpool. Everton are currently ahead of Liverpool on that front. Too many Liverpudlians have chosen Everton despite their allegiances since Steve Heighway’s departure and that needs to be addressed if a true soul is to reappear in the first team.
Gerrard’s mere presence might put an end to the cycle — as Heighway’s did when he took charge all those years ago. Gerrard would have to take a cut in wages so there would be a financial sacrifice on his part. Los Angeles, for him, has been an experiment and one worth doing because it has fortified his love of home.
His appointment at a lower level would enable him to gain valuable experience and appreciate, if he didn’t already, that it should be Liverpool’s academy that defines matters at first-team level and not the other way around. His return would show that Fenway Sports Group are serious about succession planning. If Gerrard is serious about becoming a Liverpool manager in the distant future, he will make it work.
It’s worth imagining.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo
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Gibbo got it right. Get the über-positive Kop legend and German speaker back in. Bring back King Kev!
I cannot BELIEVE that last question in the above press conference, about Howard Kendall! That really is unfair, and whoever asked it should be ashamed of himself. Klopp was perfectly dignified in what he said and he’s absolutely right, it is not fair to ask him after a few days in english football.
We’re they not heads of the dressing room mafia who helped to oust Benitez? The last thing Klopp needs is these two trading on the purple bin heritage
Spot on. Two of them got away with murder because they were scousers. If anyone else behaved in the manner they did in ousting Rafa and being happy with Hodgson, and in Carra’s case forcing through a big juicy contract with his mate Pursliw right before the club was sold, they’d have been lynched. But few of our fans ever have the balls to open their mouths about it and call their actions for what they were.
Im happy neither are at the club. Carra has the brains to go down the coaching and management route but given what we know of him, how long before he starts stabbing Klopp in the back looking the top job himself? Gerrard would be our very own Alan Shearer – simply isn’t cut out for management, regardless of what he and many liverpool fans think.
Let’s give Klopp every chance to succeed by having only his men in coaching the lads and not forcing anyone else on him, especially complete rookies who don’t even have a Uefa Pro License.
Sorry mate but huytons in knowsley (maroon bin)
And Bootles in Sefton (think its a brown or grey bin)
These things are important!
Carra needs to join ASAP.
Stevie needs to stay away for a few more years. At the moment I’d worry he would take away from Klopp in terms of being the leader. Although to be fair I cn see Klopp handling him.
Good point about Gerrard coming back and being the sort of main man, one great thing for me about Klopp coming into this squad is he’s the main man at the club now, no one in the squad has achieved anything as a player like Klopp has as a manager (actually in fairness Kolo has won plenty), no Gerrard or Carragher shadow’s looming large over him, Klopp is top dog and right now that’s what we need our manager to be.
This is a good point re Klopp – he’d be the main man even if we signed Lewandowski, Reus, Goetze etc. I always felt, and I am sure its been said on here before, that Rodgers weakened the squad to remove those with more perceived influence than himself.
I know Stevie sees himself as manager material, but just don’t see it in him yet – the U21s/U18s would be a good starting point, but I am not sold that he would take that position. I think he sees himself in the same position as Giggs at United, and I think Klopp is perfectly well supported by the guys he brought in. Carragher, on the other hand, as a Youth Development Head – like Viera has/had at City – would be a perfect fit.
With the modern nature of fans and the inability of so many to show any level of patience (more internet fans then actual match day fans) one worry you have to consider is what if Klopp hits a poor patch of form and Gerrard is doing a fine job at the U21s.
Immediately some will call for Gerrard to get the top job, I may be slightly dramatic here as I do feel like many Klopp will get time but having Gerrard at the club in a managerial position could lead some fans to doing this, had Gerrard still been here this season you can guarantee many would have been calling for him to be player manager after West Ham at home!
I like the idea of my 2 favorite players of the past 15 years being still at the club and in a more important role the club mascot sorry I mean ambassador. The description of Caras job role sound brilliant and something you can certainly see working. Same can be said for Gerrards but I just worry of how some fans will react to any sort of poor form with Gerrard working at the club in a managerial role.
In theory it sounds like an idea worth considering for the club. But Stevies return would worry me. The comments attributed to him of late have left a bit of a sour taste. His comments on Rafa especially proved that he needs to be loved and reminded regularly. He threw Rodgers under the bus and he wasnt willing to stay and fight if he wasnt center stage. He also somehow rates Hodgson. That in itself would make me question his thinking on the game. What a player he was and one of my all time favourites but as much as i’ll be slated, the last few months are the first time I could ever relate to the Stevie Me jibes. Thats why I dont think he would be willing to take the role you suggest and the last thing we need in the Klopp reign is an unhappy, powerful club legend that needs to take some sort of limelight and possibly undermine the work that is being achieved.
How did he throw Rodgers under the bus? Rodgers was the one who wanted him out. He didn’t want such a big personality around the club when he was fighting for his job. That’s pretty clear at this point considering FSG wanted him to stay on as a coach and Stevie wanted that as well, yet it didn’t happen. Everyone who is connected to him has made this pretty clear too that Rodgers was the problem.
He already did work at the Academy over the summer as well and said he really loved it so don’t know where you’re getting this assumption that he somehow sees himself about that role.
At a time when Rodgers was clinging to the Liverpool job by a thread it comes out that Gerrard blamed Rodgers for losing the league in 2013/14. Odd considering it was Gerrards slip that ultimately cost us.
He was Rafas captain but he came out saying he didnt think Rafa liked him as a person.
Hes rates Hodgson and Mourihno. Why because Hodgson made him English captain and Maureen lauded him in the media. Seems like as long as your massaging his ego your not in his firing line.
Sorry but that’s total rubbish. Have your hatred all you like but don’t start touting total rubbish.
Far from it josek Fowler and Gerrard have been my two favourite footballers so theres not one ounce of hatred here.
I havent liked some of stuff ive heard from Gerrard since leaving. Whether its been said to sell books i dont know but ive been disappointed with it. Choose to ignore it if you like but in terms of Gerrard coming back under the Klopp regime id prefer that not to happen in the immediate future. Eventually without a doubt. Carragher i would love to see back now if he got the chance.
But just because a players a club legend doesnt mean im going to lap up whatever he says in the media or writes in a book. And on this occasion i believe what gerrards had to say on some people doesnt paint him a necessarily good light. Let Klopp bring him back when he feels the timings right
Carra maybe, not sure about Gerrard. Possibly in the future. I remember 2 seperate interviews with Carra and Gerrard. Carra was saying he watches any and all football he can on tv. His passion for it really came across and as we’re now seeing in MNF he can really analyse a game.
Gerrards response to a similar question was he didn’t watch any footie, wanted to get away from it when at home. Gerrard had tonnes of ability but I always got the impression, not just from that interview, that Carra was the one who thought more deeply about the game.
I would like to see Carragher and Gerrard go into management somewhere , especially Carragher , it will answer a lot of questions.
Yes, at least in some form. But more importantly, Xabi Xabi Xabi Xabi Xabi Xabi Xabi etc
Absolutely not. I find ex player back room links irritating to be honest. I can’t see how anyone from their generation and also the likes of Fowler & Hamann actually qualify for an elite team like Klopps.
Let him shape it his own way.
Not surprised you feel this way, Alan. Reckon Michael Edwards could fill both roles?
If we were going to bring anyone back from the past for me it would be Dirk Kuyt and a true fans legend with all the pluses and none of the local politics.
Definitely Simon! (i’m not that interested in Edwards to be honest)
I’m obviously a massive fan of both of those players but that’s as far as it goes. I just can’t see FSG giving Carragher a role of that importance especially as that’s the model they are aiming for. They’ll go for experience in that field and I actually think they will go for Zorc himself or someone of similar standing in that role.
My view is Klopp and his backroom staff are something that has been invested in to shape everything in their way and i would imagine JK has requested that as part of the negotiations. It’s their philosophy and way of working so hopefully it will be kept at that.
Gerrard ‘might’ get an ambassadorial role or a coaching one in the future but I hope it’s a long way off and if he’s added, it’s in the distant future once it’s clear what direction Klopp & FSG are taking us in.
For the next few years it would be nice to forget about the past. I think it’s about time LFC did that.
Carragher might be of some help. I’ve never really thought of Gerrard as being especially bright. I doubt Klopp feels that he needs either of them, now he has transformed himself into a globally-acclaimed manager with real gravitas.
Recalling Gerrard, in any capacity, seems to me like a really depressing backwards step. On a positive note, plenty of United fans still seem deluded enough to believe that Giggs (who is significantly thicker than Gerrard) can lead them back to the promised land.
Let’s hope that the proven manager they now have is ousted (because he isn’t winning all those points in ‘the United way’) and the dashing former #7 is given a proper go next time.
Klopp’s earned the right to ignore any of our advice. If we have to go through a considerable period of transition and we start calling for his head, I hope he is confident enough to remind everyone that the last time the fans were given a say they called for Kenny Dalglish.
That was an utter disaster, no matter how anybody tries to spin it. We made ourselves look as daft as Geordies and people rightly laughed at us. I welcomed the appointment myself, so I’m as guilty as anyone else.
Owners often don’t know best. The fans don’t always get it right either. We’ll find out if Klopp was the right choice, but for now I think we just let him do what he wants.
Very well said. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
The attempt to intellectualise football at every possible level is the most depressing thing of all. That’s what I think.
Because adding intelligence to decision making is a bad thing…..?
You have to be careful that adding staff positions – another layer- doesn’t make communication MORE difficult.
I find it really strange that the Best Possible Manager has been signed , with his proven staff – and people want to muddy the water, indulge in a Supergroup fantasy. We love our team, but we need emotion + proven managerial quality. Badges complete, Assistant Coach at LA Herbals, Manager at Tranmere ( Myanmar ?). Surely SG has got to feel what despair as a Manageris like before he starts ‘getting enthusiastic’ undermining Klopp drip,drip.
Regarding Carragher: I always think his observations on Sky far less interesting or astute than Neville’s. Neville after all was the one chosen to assist England and not Carragher even though Hodgson must have been more familiar at the time with Carragher. Did anyone see that MNF where it was Carragher and Roberto Martinez, I was actually quite embarrassed for Jamie and the gulf in his knowledge compared to Martinez, maybe that is to be expected.
A nice article, but one grounded in fantasy. I think most Liverpool fans would love more ex-players at the Club. It’s something were we’ve probably not helped ourselves over recent years.
However to claim Carragher would be perfect for a role as ‘Sporting Director’ is absurd and frankly, leaning towards the Football Manager end of the spectrum.
How can you think a man you don’t know would be a good fit for a job which isn’t defined?
Even if we took the role of Sporting Director to equate to broadly what it does on the continent, we’re talking about a strategic, senior management position for a multi-million pound global corporation.
That’s a huge role.
Perhaps Carragher could do it. Certainly if he went off and did a MBA or something of that ilk he’d be better equipped, but to suggest simply ‘cos he was a great player and a deep thinker about the game translates to being a good Sporting Director is crazy.
Correct Damian. An MBA and a several years at a smaller company. There will be scores of women in the UK better qualified for that role than Carragher and hundreds of guys.
To be fair, Carragher would probably laugh at the idea that he currently had the right skill-set to be a director. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gerrard isn’t already offended by the fact that he hasn’t yet been headhunted.
I guess Klopp has done okay in his career so far with his own back room team from Dortmund and Mainz 05. Bit disrespectful to suggest he needs help at this early stage in his LFC job – though I understand the sentiment and all that….
We’ve been banging on for longer than at least two sets of yanks about the lack of football people “upstairs”. Maybe this is partly what the author is saying and I’m pretty sure Klopp is not that insecure, and that while the on pitch decisions are his absolutely, a like minded person who has the ears of the board would be a cushion both ways. Think Rafa could have used one.
Carra is an above average mind when it comes to football analysis. Nowhere near good enough. You want brilliant people in there, not a loud ex-player.
There are a lot more elite managers that were not world class players than were. None of the boot room were world class players and many elite managers had their careers cut short by injury or not been good enough and therefore went into coaching and management early. I like the idea of ex-players being brought back into the club and I would like to see more off it, but this can only work if the players themselves have the same ideas as the manager on how football should be played if not it could be very disruptive. Klopp like Rafa reference Sacchi as a great influence and the concern over Carra and Gerrard would be if they also belive this method of play is the way forward, both players reference Houllier and maybe they share his vision more.