SO, he’s finally here.
Jürgen Klopp was the obvious choice, but when of late have FSG opted for the obvious thing and actually accomplished it? No hard-luck stories this time about competing with big fat Manchester wage slips or shopping under the bright lights of London. For once, the fans’ old mantra “We’re Liverpool” has rung true with an appointment that has its roots in the sheer pull, the glamour, the romance of the actual name, Liverpool Football Club. The Kop has got its man.
Such has been the Jürgen Klopp euphoria from Reds fans this week that Brendan Rodgers is already a forgotten man. Harsh but true.
Stuck in the car this morning, I listened to Klopp’s news conference on the radio. Now, here’s a thing. I didn’t think he sounded that impressive. He apologised at the start for his English and I could hear why as he searched for his words and went on a bit of a ramble about his proud mother, his humble playing career and Black Forest background. Forced into a comparison with the “great Mourinho” he offered up a label of the “Normal One” when in all honesty, I wanted him to say he was the mental one.
He fared better with the obvious transfer committee question and his insistence he was comfortable with advice, help and consensus where he has the first word and the last word. Sounds like the type of consensus my missus strives for.
Having now seen the very same news conference via the medium of television, I’m hooked. Yes, his English is a bit ropey but he more than makes up for it with charisma. Anyone can smile — and Klopp smiles a lot — but the man positively exudes personality. Madness lurks behind those eyes; and though he claimed not be a genius, the traits are close bedfellows. Ask Shanks. Ask Rafa.
I sensed he was a little nervous and yet journalists came away talking of him commanding the room. Personally, I think the significance of press conferences is massively overplayed and the Mourinho example shows that some hacks are no better than mere sycophants but the presence that so impressed the media will be infectious in the dressing room — where it really matters.
Where Klopp’s magnetism also must come to the fore is in the stadium, at the actual football. He’s already got a head start and the fans are bouncing. Songs are being drafted and banners scripted by supporters who just want to start enjoying their football again. Tottenham away, a week on Saturday, should be a grand day out. The pubs in town will be doing a roaring trade with a televised early kick-off.
Klopp’s biggest challenge though is changing the mindset at Anfield on and off the pitch. There’s an opportunity here to restore the Holy Trinity of manager, players and supporters. FSG have played their part, and let’s give them — and the glowing Ian Ayre — a big pat on the back for getting the job done but now it’s time for them to melt into the background and leave it to those who matter.
The You Tube clips have been battered this week and one in particular shows Klopp’s ten best celebrations. The fella looks a bit mad. “He’s big, he’s Red, he’s off his fucking head” being an early candidate for a song on the Kop. All great stuff but let’s for a minute think about the environment that was the backdrop to those Klopp antics. Supporters often standing, beer in the seats; players and fans as one and the whole performance conducted and inspired by the jumping lunatic on the touchline.
The scenes at Dortmund’s Wesfalenstadion were reminiscent of the old Anfield under that other mad man, Shankly who believed he could “transmit his thoughts” to his players and give an energy to his team that inspired the crowd. It became a glorious symbiotic relationship.
The world, society and football has changed since the sixties and seventies. Anfield has changed with it — dramatically. It has become a soulless place, where the maverick gets a sneer; where conservative, conformist, frankly boring behaviour rules the roost. Jürgen Klopp though is the man to help us raise our game by acting the goat. I want to see him running down touchlines, diving into the Paddock seats and generally showing everyone that it is OK to express yourself; that it is alright to have some fun at the match.
Jurgen, at your first game don’t just give us a wave from the dug-out. Come down to the Kop and get close to us. Let us feed off your warmth. Smile that big smile and watch us grin back and raise the roof. Whoever is charged with picking the history videos, don’t be showing him 5-0s v Forest; instead let him watch the supporters greet Clemence, Toshack and Shankly under the shadow of The Kop. If we’re going to win this unfair game that is the modern day Premier League let’s start behaving differently to everyone else. Let’s have our people start baring their souls.
The players too need to be encouraged to express themselves. Press and run and score all you like but understand that a relationship with supporters goes way beyond all that. There was a Champions League game at Dortmund — I’m not sure which one — where I recall Borussia making an unlikely comeback. The atmosphere was incredible but that is hardly surprising when you’ve got Robert Lewandowski scaling fences to get in the crowd.
Liverpool players; for fuck’s sake, throw off your inhibitions. When we win, it’s alright to come right down to the edge of the pitch to clap the fans and take our applause. If we’re expecting that, then perhaps we won’t all get off on 85 minutes. Stop being so apologetic for earning the millions you do but share it with us in the only way you can.
We don’t bite but you seem scared of us. Let’s have Sturridge doing his dance with someone in the front row of the Centenary Stand and Ings running into The Kop, eyes ablaze after every goal. Lucas Leiva; remember how good it felt to be on the top of that Rickie Lambert piley in the crowd at Villa last season? When did we know the players believed a title was possible in 2013-14? When Gerrard had his top off in the last minute at Fulham.
Klopp spoke today of the importance of “emotion” in football, and everything we see suggests his pores seep with the stuff. Transmit that to your players, Jurgen. Encourage them to behave emotionally. Let us see them for who they are and maybe then we can love them back.
Pics: Propaganda Photo