CHELSEA supporters love Jose Mourinho. They love the absolute bones of him. They will sing his name on Saturday at their game. They will say things on social media that will be mocked because they are deemed over the top or too emotional. They will be angry with their players who have let themselves, their former manager and the football club down.
And I respect this. They should be emotional. How can you not be? They identify with the man. He brought silverware. He knocked the club into shape — the sort of shape where it could win the Champions League in 2012.
The club knocked him into shape — gave him the stage and the licence to be disliked. Think back 10 years when both Mourinho and Chelsea were the nouveau riche. They made sense of each other, Mourinho and those supporters — made one another more despicable, locked in a loving embrace outsiders would hate.
Fair play to them. This is football in its purest form. Us versus them. All the us versus all the them.
There are managers that just make clear sense in places. And some that don’t.
This is why, for all the undertow talk of how Liverpool may have acted cleverly and quickly to secure Jürgen Klopp before Chelsea came knocking, it’s worth remembering that Klopp wanted to be Liverpool manager and that there is no guarantee of success anywhere but especially where you don’t fit. Klopp at Chelsea would have been disjointed because there is a uniqueness to either club, either support.
Some managers fit some clubs and others don’t. Talking to a couple of Manchester United supporters last week, it was clear how much Louis van Gaal simply can’t fit. They don’t want him.
One remarked he would have loved Klopp. “Nah,” said the other. “He doesn’t seem enough of a cunt to be United manager.”
You’d be concerned by Diego Simeone going anywhere but especially Manchester United or Chelsea. Manchester United and Chelsea love being feared and despised. They revel in it. It is their thing. Manchester City want to be loved, want to be fluffy and collegiate, want to be megastars so Pep Guardiola going there is a worry on top of his actual ability as a manager of elite players.
Managers knock clubs into shape. Clubs, supports, knock managers into shape.
Which inevitably brings us to what we want and how we want it. We want the football club to act as a vehicle for the city’s exceptionalism.
Liverpool is an exceptional city in the United Kingdom. Often there is a desire to link it with Belfast or Glasgow. It has as much in common with Manchester as either, in different ways.
Liverpool doesn’t want to be feared or despised. Liverpool doesn’t want your fluffy love. Liverpool wants your staggering respect. Liverpool wants your admiration. It wants you to know it is exceptional, it stands as its own glorious infuriating mad bastard thing, which can so often do your head in whether you like it or not. Liverpool is right, whether it agrees with itself or not. Liverpool is right. 18 leagues and five European Cups. How can we be wrong?
This isn’t a parochialism. Far from it. Liverpool looks outwards from England, yes. Away from the English (with the Mancunian exception we don’t talk about) towards the aforementioned Irish and Scots. Towards the continent, across the oceans.
Liverpool gets French puppets to provide its huge scale street theatre. Allez les verts. Liverpool takes those puppets and makes them Scouse. Allez les Rouges. Had those puppets been from Basingstoke they wouldn’t have got in the place. They wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Respect is a complex thing that has been in relatively short supply at and around many football clubs in recent years. Part of Liverpool’s exceptionalism is that it sits at the heart of many — perhaps too many and almost certainly too knotted — footballing problems. Supporters don’t feel sufficiently respected by football clubs, players and managers. They feel knocked around by television.
Those clubs are too often suspicious of supporters, Liverpool falling over itself at times to find bloody stupid ways to alienate support beyond the industry-wide issue around ticket prices. Footballers seem like distant gilded beings when they are just lads running round the pitch, chasing a ball. We fall back into old certainties, into old ways. Us versus them, yes. But ‘them’ can become the club. At times, ‘them’ can be the actual players while playing football for Liverpool.
It’s in the context of all of this — much of which he probably, thankfully, isn’t even aware of — that Jürgen Klopp does something exceptional and exceptionally un-English when he brings the players over. It’s part of him knocking us into shape.
READ: Why Klopp was right to salute the supporters
It’s a bit uncool, especially having failed to win. It’s bit awkward, especially as the players look ropey about it. But it is heartfelt and it is about respect. Mutual respect, mutual admiration — the players are being reminded as much as anyone else. These pay this money and make this noise for you. Don’t forget it.
The only us versus them that can make proper sense is the us being all of us. The them being all of them. Build us up, a bastion of invincibility, make them send a team from Mars to beat us. They all laugh at us, they all mock at us, they all say…
Klopp doesn’t want to be a hero, he’s made that crystal clear. He doesn’t want to be seen as a demi-god. He wants his team and supporters to admire each other. He wants Liverpool’s football and graft to elicit respect.
That’s Liverpudlian — putting a stint in. Forget the English and those across the world who want their football support to be influenced by English football support with its self-imposed rules. Forget all that. Let’s make one another happy.
Allez les Rouges.
Pics: Propaganda-Photo–David Rawcliffe
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
‘Chelsea were the nouveau riche. They made sense of each other, Mourinho and those supporters — made one another more despicable, locked in a loving embrace outsiders would hate.’
Precisely. Millwall with money. About as classy too. They deserved each other.
Drew PSG in the Champions League again, haven’t they…
‘Millwall with money.’
Absolutely nailed it!!! Best definition ever!
Nice article mate, says lots about how identity should be built and how a fan should concentrate on making his own club exceptional. Since there’s been a lot of talk about it recently, I think this short documentary about my home club St. Pauli will speak to every Liverpool fan around, cause they live the YNWA as well. Enjoy:
Hi mate, excellent that. A real eye opener. It puts our clubs to shame. I’d love to be part of my club. In fact, I’d quite like to live in Germany for a bit. Seems really cool. I’ll be honest when I saw St Pauli I didn’t even know what country it was in. I’ll probably look out for their results now. A good run after Christmas and they could be pushing for automatic promotion.
What intrigues me mate, is the number of German people commenting on here recently. I’m guessing that’s because of Klopp. I’m interested to know did Liverpool have many fans in Germany before Klopp? Are the people coming on here supporting Liverpool as their 2nd team or is it just Klopp they like? Finally, what kind of numbers are taking an interest in Liverpool? Is it a few here and there or a lot? I find it fascinating and it’s something I really like.
Believe it or not, St. Pauli was one of the first clubs in Germany to sing YNWA in the early nineties and it’s still a big part of the club. They share a very close friendship with Celtic. The teams enter to Hells Bells (AC/DC) on matchdays and Song2 (Blur) is played when goals are scored. Like in the video, it’s one big, supporter-driven party. I’d recommend you to take some of your mates, get tickets for a friday/saturday home game and visit the city while you’re at it, we got great night life as well.
All in all it’s worth to read up on it and watch some more of the countless videos on the web.
About Klopp and LFC, it’s hard to say. I was influenced by my dad who’s a crazy fan since the glory days, he almost named me after Kevin Keegan, so naturally I was influenced and became a fan as well, also because the old club values of LFC are so similar to St. Pauli. Unfortunately I’m only old enough to have witnessed Istanbul.
My impression is that despite the slight decline LFC is still regarded as one of great european clubs in Germany, because most of us still know the stories of the past. I’m sure that’s also why Klopp went to LFC, imo it was the only club he could go to. I’m sure you’re aware of that now too.
There’s no doubt though, that Klopp turned up the hype about LFC in Germany. Since he took over the sports media were all over it and all LFC league games are being brodcast on SKY as well.
Ha, come out to Hells Bells. I think if there’s one thing where it hits home the fans have a large say in the running of the club it’s that, haha, brilliant.
Would love to go to Hamburg. Don’t get me wrong I have been to Germany a few times, it’s a beautiful country but never Hamburg. I live by the rule if leaving my home ‘go south’. My daughter stayed there for a week. She loved it.
Apologies for the assumption you were a new fan. From what you said, it sounds like Liverpool will be the favourite of the German fans over the next few years. TV has that effect. Good stuff mate,
Oh I can understand that assumption, I can only imagine what the new wonders of instant information acquisition and connection did to flood the LFC websites with German people. I havent been really vocal about football clubs on the net, only recently started this whole twitter thing and got more involved than watching the games and reading the occasional news in the German media.
I have to admit that Klopp was like a stepping stone for me there, but of course I was all the more hyped he joined my second favourite club.
Also because I witnessed what he can do to clubs with that kind of football romantic fanbase. He’s the only top class manager right now who can give Liverpool what it needs to change, to evolve and maybe change perspectives and bad habits in English football. A lot of people don’t get it yet, but I think the LFC fans already start to feel it. If all goes as planned, and I’m positive it will, this is going to be a very special time. Patience is needed but the end result will be worth it.
I didn’t know anything about him when he was at Dortmund which is a shame really because as Neil insinuates, managers fit the profile of the club. With that in mind I like to bet on the ‘next manager’ markets and a fairly hefty sum too. I’ve won 4 out of the last 5 big ones. Point being, I didn’t think Klopp would entertain coming to Liverpool before I knew a bit about him because I was thinking mechanically as in the formula; chance of success over money over location. Most people are fairly predictable. Now I do know a little about him it was so obvious he;d come to us. It’s a match made in heaven.
I’m fully on board mate. I’d go as far as to say Liverpool will win 3 leagues in the next 7/8 years. I’m more into looking at football psychologically rather than say, stats. Klopp’s a dream come true for me. I could never really buy into Rodgers personality as much as I supported him. Klopp won me over in the first 5 minutes. It was all a laugh and a joke at first but Klopp is a very serious character. I don’t see him as the god like figure that walked through the door anymore. I respect him for the human he is now, if that makes sense. It’s hard work that’s made him succeed not the fact that he seems a laugh and gets on with players, though it’s all part of his appeal.
He seems to have a good football knowledge but what I’m seeing most is his desire to win. He simply will not accept failure. I love that attitude. He’s not as soft as he comes across. I fully respect the man he is and I can’t wait for the future with him.
Mate, ask for Pirates, Punks and Politics as one of your stocking fillers. Sankt Pauli are, without doubt, the coolest club on the planet.
Very interesting history about this very special club…well done and keep it up. Hope to visit there one day soon…
Haha, thanks! I’d love to visit Anfield one day and scream my lungs out, but it’s really hard to get it done financially. Still one of my big dreams!
I also recommend coming to Hamburg some day and watch a St. Pauli game, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
mourinho doesn’t knock clubs into shape, does he? i’m not sure that’s what his history shows. or chelsea’s? they were trending one way when he got there. i understand why the fans love him, and for some of the reasons you say, but mourinho and the success he brought were not mutually inclusive (abramovich would have made sure of that). and the character of chelsea’s nouveau richeness already existed pre- that with likes of vialli, hoddle, gullit, desailly, ranieiri etc. ancelotti, for example, could have taken them on in a way that fitted better with what they were at that point. city aren’t doing them v. us very much. perhaps they’d be better for it. they almost certainly wouldn’t be a paranoid mess on the brink of the relegation places though.
That’s it Neil. Conflicted. At the club, but maybe really at this whole profit maximized machine football ( and a lot of media generally, I guess) has become.
But I think we’re nearly %100 unified behind this Klopp bloke – he gets it. We might not have the squad, the stadium expansion might be poorly managed, TV rights dollars may eclipse sensible fixture scheduling, we might play in the far east on Disney on Ices’ training pitch – but this Klopp bloke seems a lot more pissed off about a poor development than I could imagine a comment thread worth of us could.
“F**k you bus parkers. F**k you Palace. Love really – but seriously – I don’t take the losses well because we are f**king winners. ” – our Jürgen Klopp, more or less.
Yep. It’s all bullsh*t. All of it. And he knows it. He just wants to see us having a f***ing go. We can all agree, that seeing us having a f***ing go is universally what we want to see.
Us. Them. Doesn’t matter who. We’ll have a go, and we’ll give them a game they’ll remember. The rest is bulls**t.
Klopp..and Neil. Avatars of hope for a better tomorrow ;-) Cheers
If Stamford Bridge was redeveloped as a 100,000 seater stadium and we ground-shared with Chelsea, we would get more in for our home-games than they would.
That’s Mourinho’s true legacy.
Forty million quid. The reward for being shit at your job. Forty. Million. Quid.
Damned right they deserve each other.
I was listening to a Chelsea podcast the other day, before you think why, I’m out in Brazil and had already listened to everything I could get my hands on. They had lost again to Leicester and wanted to hear what they were thinking.
They had just lost to Bournemouth and one of the posh knobs on it was saying he fell around laughing cause we had lost to Newcastle.
That’s a big difference with the supporters of the two, they are horrible and find others to laugh at. When we’re horrible we moan about it amongst each other like normal people.
I listed to your pod today and heard I think mentioned once for a second that Morinhio got the sack.
Now if it happened the otherway they would be trolling us like c##ts – what do you do write a nice respectful article about them. That’s the difference with our fans.
That’s just the thing, isn’t it? They care more about us then we care about them? Meaning they are obsessed with us while we aren’t obsessed with them. Sure, we’ll have a laugh when Chelsea loses to Bournemouth or Leicester City. It doesn’t make or break our day.
The match reports on our games in some papers – notably the Daily Mail (yes, I know I shouldn’t read it, but I also read the Guardian and the Independent) are absolutely full of comments from Manu fans with pathetic puns – like Loserpool – who seem never to comment on their own team. I couldn’t be bothered, personally. You have to wonder at their obsession with us.
Maybe he can go flat-share with Stevie and Ferguson so they can bitch about Benitez for the rest of their days.
Not happy with this Simeone as United manager seed you’re incepting here, Neil. Games against them wouldn’t be the limp disgraces they have been recently though tbf.
If Rafa was not with us, I wouldn’t mind having Mou as our manager in those days after Houllier left.
But our very own Klopp is miles ahead of Mou or anyone else. (and higher EQ too…). would not swap him with anyone else…even for £100m “manager transfer fees” (if there is such thing)…
Splendid article, Neil, as always.
Geez, it feels like forever since we played a game.
First time since Klopp arrived that he he had a whole week to train with the team (except the international breaks), so might be that.
Klopp is the piece of sky that was missing. The little bit with the Liver Birds seaweed in its beak.
The internet is honestly an amazing thing. W/o any sarcasm, imagine this situation in pre-internet times: It would have taken the English supporters a long time to realize that the relationship between supporters and team is like a marriage over in Germany: In good and in bad times, no matter what the result.
You saw the bemused reaction by the official BVB Twitter account to suggestions Klopp was “celebrating” (that is kinda, different, if you ever saw that ;) ) a mere draw.
As mentioned before, I am a German “Red” meaning a Bayern supporter and I can tell you, even in their shittiest days before Klopp under Doll, Dortmund was hard to beat on their home turf, because they play with at least 12 men at the Westphalenstadion. An the twelth player has got 80K+ voices. Same goes for the Istanbul clubs: They were never really top notch in Europe, but beating them at home used to be really hard in he old days. Just because f this bond between club and supporters. Tens of thousands pushing on the own team works magic and instills fear in the opposing team. This is, what it is all about.
If Klopp is the conductor and the team is the orchestra, supporters are the choir and not merely spectators. Love this “un-Englishness”.