LIVERPOOL won — and won well, coming back from a goal down to the champions — at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Not that you’d know it looking at some of the mainstream media ever since. It’s been Jose Mourinho this, Jose Mourinho that, Chelsea’s mistakes and the Stamford Bridge crisis.
The smell of managerial blood is thick in the air. So who cares about Liverpool and what could prove to be a significant win on the road in the Jürgen Klopp revolution?
Well, we do, obviously. And lost among the fallout since the Reds’ 3-1 win in London was a small window on how Klopp could soon have us tumbling over seats, punching the air, hugging strangers and singing ourselves hoarse on a regular basis.
To outsiders looking in, the moment Klopp berated fourth official Lee Mason and immediately followed it up by fronting José Morais, a member of Chelsea’s backroom staff, might have been little more than a sideshow to the main event.
But for many Reds it was a moment to make the heart skip — and more evidence that we’ve got the right man patrolling the Liverpool technical area week in, week out.
It’s all about what you want from a manager — how he can best serve, recognise and represent the fans and the city.
And lots of Liverpool supporters want a man with passion, with fight — a man who won’t take nonsense from the opposite dugout, or from journalists asking stupid questions, or from players who are too big for their boots.
He’s not a manager (yet) but when you see Jamie Carragher candidly admitting on Monday Night Football that Chelsea and Liverpool don’t like each other, it’s that kind of honesty we respect and yearn for in a world too over-exposed to media-trained PR soundbites.
We’ve seen the two sides to Klopp in his press conferences: the charm, the smile and the clever answers on one side; the frown, the glare and the cutting replies on the other.
Fighting the fight was something Brendan Rodgers didn’t always get to grips with. He had his moments — serving up a metaphorical dig in the ribs to David Moyes after Liverpool bossed it 3-0 at Old Trafford with this line (after Moyes had declared the Reds to be favourites pre-match): “I was probably surprised when I heard we were supposedly coming to Old Trafford as favourites. I would never say that at Liverpool — even if I was bottom of the league.”
He also had a pop at Mourinho, accusing him of “parking two buses”. By the end though it felt like he was fighting his fight, not Liverpool’s, with the accusations of “hysteria” and people “outside the club” with an agenda against him particularly hard to stomach.
Before Rodgers, we had Kenny Dalglish for his second spell and he knew all about the good fight. Traditionally spiky in press conferences, he took on the managerial fighting trait a step further when he told Arsene Wenger to “piss off” (and to “fuck off” for good measure).
The Luis Suarez t-shirts with hindsight… hmmm. But even that was motivated — however misguided in that circumstance — by fighting for the Liverpool cause, sticking up for your own, taking no nonsense.
It was something Dalglish did in his first spell at the club, too, famously so after a 3-3 draw between Liverpool and Manchester United in 1988 when Alex Ferguson was furious about having a man sent off.
As The Purple One threatened to spontaneously combust, Dalglish walked past his rival in the tunnel while carrying his young daughter Lauren, saying to the radio interviewer speaking to Ferguson: “You’d be better off talking to my baby. She’s only six weeks old but you’d get more sense from her than him.”
Maybe all this shouldn’t matter, but it does. Because when you’re passionately living your support for your club every day you want to see that your manager does something approaching the same.
It must feel good for the players, too, to know they have a manager who will come out swinging if needed. Bill Shankly famously said: “For a player to be good enough to play for Liverpool, he must be prepared to run through a brick wall for me then come out fighting on the other side.” To get that buy in, surely the manager must display the same traits.
It’s why for many Liverpool fans there remains a fond fascination with Rafa Benitez — and a deep hatred for Roy Hodgson.
Because while Benitez undoubtedly loved the fight – with the owners, with Ferguson, with just about anyone – Hodgson never did.
Remember when Ferguson accused Fernando Torres of cheating in the 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford? “He made an absolute meal of it to get our player sent off,” he told the media.
That’s a fight your corner moment. And what did Hodgson do? He said this: “Sir Alex is entitled to any opinion he wants to have but I’m not going to come here and say I agree or disagree.”
Entitled to any opinion he wants?
Or the time Manchester United was linked with a move for Torres. “We will cross that bridge when we come to it,” says Hodgson. “We wouldn’t sell to them in a million years,” is what we wanted to hear.
There are more, many more (see here). Remember him lauding “the great man Mourinho” for his view that “Liverpool will get worse and worse”?
It’s why Hodgson’s sacking was much a cause for celebration among Liverpool fans as the appointment and impression of Klopp so far is now. He was wrong, this man is right.
Liverpool are competing at the top end of football in a fight, an unfair one — every advantage needs to be played on, every possible edge exploited. Including getting a manager who understands what he is working with.
When the Reds have a leader in charge who is worthy of the name, who will fight the fights and inspire fans and players, Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with.
We’re not there yet. But at least it feels like we’re heading in the right direction with a man who knows how to battle and has a track record to prove it.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo
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Good article that!!! Keep up the good work
Another quality offering Gareth, so many passages resonating perfectly with my own thoughts.
Best thing about this is that the Chelsea bench I’d duck all about it. The only manager that’s really had a go at the Chelsea bench during the match is Wenger but he does it moaning as usually they’re getting beat. If wenger done what klopp did Mourinho would have been right in his face and that rat ferria (think that’s his name). But they just sat there and watch when klopp fronted up. BOSS.
*Did fuck all*
Agree with every word.
Agree 100%. Also, great form on the half volley in the Carra/Fatty background.
Great clips to accompany the article.
Poor Rafa. I was skiing at the time and I got a text message saying Rafa had really laid into Fergie and it was the best thing ever. Not having the internet I had to wait a fair few days before I saw it. I was really looking forward to it. When I finally did, after all the anticipation, I didn’t feel euphoria. I just felt a bit of sadness. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Absolute respect to him though.
Got to watch what I say here but I put the T-shirt incident down as the start of us seeing the best of Suarez. I feel he wanted to repay everyone, including the fans for their loyalty. By 13/14 we were seeing the best of him and I feel the incidents were the driving factor. That season was nothing to do with …..haha, forget that.
Like everyone, I’m so pleased we have Klopp. I completely agree with this article. It’s essential but one thing I’m thinking about at the minute is his people skills. My best mate demands respect from people but for me, I think I demand honesty. So, if someone puts on a front I very quickly lose the desire to converse with them. Anyone can pretend to be something they’re not. I’m only interested in who a person really is. You’re right about Rodgers and how it felt near the end. It was a shame but he didn’t really inspire. It felt like the real him was a little lost by the end and once you see that it’s hard to buy into him as a leader thereafter. It’s how life is. The problem is, at some point the real person always show themselves. I think we’ve all had girlfriends where we’ve thought they’re dead sound then they’ve exploded for no reason. The next day they try to laugh it off with excuses about being stressed at work but I’ve gone by that point because I can see they’re a fuckin psycho hiding behind the front.
Ha, nearly forgot where this was going then. Klopp has many nice traits but his best is the ‘what you see is what you get’. He’s just a nice genuine man. There’s no bullshit to him. I don’t buy into these theories that he’s playing the game in some of these press conferences. I think it’s his natural demeanour. He’s definitely passionate about football. He definitely has a sense of humour, he’s certainly very honest and open in his answers to questions but what comes across most is his love for people. He’s a very warm and compassionate man. The reason I mention that is because I kind of subscribe to the idea that 4 or 5 years is long enough for most managers. When Klopp left after 7 everyone was gutted. A lot accepted it was right but they still loved him. Raphael Honigstein said everyone in Germany is following Liverpool at the minute because of the esteem he’s held in. Unfortunately, very natural people like Klopp are rare. What it means for us is we’ll never have a situation where we’re speculating if he’s lost the dressing room. If things aren’t going well we’ll know the players are having sleepless nights trying to think how they can fix it for him. Players will definitely wanna join us to work under Klopp. They’ll never get to the point where Mourinho’s players are currently at because, like I say, there’s no bravado, no bullshit, no front, jusy wysiwyg. As someone who religiously looks at whether someone is genuine or full of it, I can guarantee we can have the strongest personalities in football in our dressing room and they’ll all wanna run through brick walls for Klopp. I’m entirely convinced that in 3 years Liverpool will be more powerful than we have been in the last 25 years. The holy trinity will be strong and it’ll all be driven by Klopps honest and genuinely warm personality. People will buy in and stay bought in for ever. Look at how Rodgers ended. Look at Mourinho now. Even Fergie had to clear out the personalities to keep his power so complete. Players won’t get to that stage with Klopp. There’s no man in the whole world who would have been better for us.
The thing I respect about Jürgen so far is that he lives and breathes football. It seems that for him there’s basically (1) football and (2) not football. So far in his press conferences and post-game comments he’s managed to parse everything fairly well. If it’s about the football he has a light in his eyes and he speaks plainly and directly. The passion and focus is obvious. If the question is about anything other than football — the transfer committee, the owners, stupid trick questions from the media, anything about him personally, etc. — the expression in his eyes changes and he seems to answer honestly but is clearly not interested — or only interested enough to be cautious in answering as quickly and succinctly as possible. I hope he’s able to continue in this way. No BS. Focused on his primary job. Eyes always on his main purpose, true to his passion, his love of and pleasure in the game. Not allowing himself to be distracted. If the players and fans maintain the same focus we can achieve great things.
Agree with OP, @robin_crimes and @ellie.
Besides, I wonder why 99% of the EPL managers wear a suit and a tie. Klopp would need XXL-size not to tear is suit to bits, doing one of his great leaps for scousekind. Apart from Big Sam and Fergie, I really miss emotion on UK managers.
Btw, “Jürgen” equals “Juergen” in German. So, no need for the umlauts, but insert another “e”.
damn German efficiency! why write another letter when 2 dots will do…..
Hahaha! But I like a good umlaut! And it’s very easy to do on an iPhone keyboard. :-)
Thanks Robin. Enjoyed your spiel and I agree. Jurgen has a powerful personality but not one based on needing to dominate or bullshit the world. People already referring to his messianic qualities which is a bit crazy but also kinda appropriate in that people sense his intrinsic goodness and want to follow him- I know I do. Kind regards from N. Z.
Would Klopp have kept Jonjo?
I would have…he has balls, but probably didn’t juggle them enough for Rodgers.
kept him for what exactly?
Rodgers would have kept Jonjo.
Jonjo admitted he was asked to stay and fight for his place. He kept his balls to himself and went to Swansea.
Was Roy Hodgson really our Manager?
How did you delete that from your memory banks Jay?
Trying for years.