BEFORE the game yesterday Jürgen Klopp appealed for an atmosphere at Anfield.
“Like all things in life, you can wait for the moment or you can create the moment,” he said. “Hopefully we can create the moment against West Brom. I’m always close to a good atmosphere in myself. If other people can join us in this, that would be cool.
“It is close to Christmas and people are maybe concentrating on other things. But when we come together we should all be prepared for a very special moment. If we have to play against doubts, then it is difficult. Maybe we can create the best atmosphere in the last 10 years.”
It doesn’t take too much reading between the lines since his arrival in October to work out that Klopp has been underwhelmed by what he has seen and heard from fans at Anfield. It wasn’t what he was sold, this. There was no mention in the brochure of shoulder-shrugging, scowling and an all prevailing feeling of “here we go again” the second a mistake is made.
Klopp expected a roaring Kop, flags and banners, The Twelfth Man, sucking the ball into the back of the net, a crowd worth a goal start. All that. He’s a romantic, a man who lives on emotion. And in Liverpool he thought he had identified a kindred spirit.
Instead, he got people walking out with loads of time left on the clock against Palace. He got virtual silence at times. He must have wondered when the songs would come, when the roar would return, when arms would unfold and frowns straighten out.
Liverpool’s recent record at Anfield is becoming a real concern and the fans haven’t been helping. Yesterday, finally, they did. The game that unfolded followed a familiar script, a scene played out all too often in this corner of L4. Indecisive at the back, organised but limited opponents grabbing points, goalkeeping gaffes, conceding from set pieces. All very Liverpool c.2015.
But in the stands, it was better. Klopp’s rallying call was answered. The team’s name was chanted, even at times when a big moment hadn’t prompted it. There were clear attempts to lift the players, to urge them on, not just the reactionary cheers. And that must be a millions times more motivating than the moans, groans and worse that normally accompany mistakes by those wearing red shirts.
By the end of the game, Anfield was in full voice. And you could see it lifted the players. It definitely lifted the manager. Jordon Ibe and Divock Origi looked like they had a spring in their step as the positive vibes lifted them to keep going, to keep trying, to make it happen, to force the stroke of luck.
In the end only a point was gleaned from the jaws of defeat but with Spurs and Manchester United losing, it isn’t the worst result, and it so very easily could have been worse.
Fans are right to expect more from Liverpool but those expectations shouldn’t come at the expense of support. And that’s why I think Klopp was right to salute the fans with the players at the end. He asked, we gave. He wanted that to be acknowledged. We’re better together.
So now we know. More of that. It shouldn’t have to come to public appeals and pitchside thank yous but Anfield has to change. Support should move towards being unconditional, not subject to results. And who knows, with better support maybe better results come, too? It’s clearly Klopp’s thinking, yet still we have the negativity from many that follow the club.
Many of the moans that have followed the manager’s actions centre around the conservatism that has started to rule many at Anfield. Don’t sing or shout, because what if you say the wrong thing? What if someone thinks you’re a dickhead? Too many at Anfield seem paralysed by unwritten rules, frozen by fear of ridicule, too scared to start a song.
Everyone thinks there’s a problem yet no one thinks it’s their fault. And if you try to change it, well what about being cool?
So now we see, what will X set of fans think about what Klopp did? They’re going to take the piss. Going to laugh. Even Sky Sports is getting in on the act, describing Klopp’s act as “behaviour you would ordinarily see at a cup final”.
Who’s arsed? They’re irrelevant.
I appreciated the gesture and those around me on The Kop applauding with a beaming smile appeared to feel the same. If that means the next time they click through the Anfield turnstiles they bring with them a greater willingness to sing, scream, shout and roar then happy days, that’s what matters. The manager couldn’t have been clearer on what he wants.
Other fans want to have a pop, sound — how is the atmosphere at their ground and what is their manager doing to remedy the situation? Would they take Klopp at their club?
There you go.
Our manager is having a go. As he said beforehand, you can either wait for things to happen or you can make them happen. He went for the latter. Everyone who goes to Anfield should do the same.
“It was the best atmosphere since I’ve been here, it was great,” Klopp said after the game. “People were disappointed or frustrated but they didn’t let us feel it. They saw the lads tried everything.”
Again the message is clear. Make your support unconditional. Back the players and urge them on rather than letting frustrations spill onto the pitch. Make Anfield a place to fear for the opposition, rather than a place to fear for the Liverpool player who makes a mistake.
The next home game is Boxing Day v Leicester. A noisy Kop, a manager going nuts and players and boss saluting the fans afterwards. Sounds alright, doesn’t it?
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo