THE Liverpool manager has been subject of a series of interviews with a range of media, including The Daily Mail, Goal, FourFourTwo, the BBC’s new Premier League Show with Gary Lineker and, most recently, Monday Night Football on Sky Sports.
Jürgen Klopp even took the time to speak to The Anfield Wrap in the summer.
For some, this approach jars: It’s not what managers do; it’s not what Liverpool managers do.
Take Ronnie Whelan, for example.
In Irish newspaper The Herald this week, Whelan, who won 12 major honours with the Reds and clocked up 493 appearances for the club, said: “Jürgen Klopp will be on Sky tonight with Jamie Carragher and I don’t think that’s a good idea. What’s in it for Liverpool Football Club?”
He went on: “I’m not sure we need more Jürgen Klopp and he only has to look at his predecessor’s time at Anfield for a lesson in what over-exposure can do to a manager.
“Brendan Rodgers became a parody of himself towards the end of his spell at Anfield, simply because he didn’t seem to know when to say nothing. Every time he turned up in front of a camera, his words became more flaky, but he made himself available when he would have been better served hunkering down.”
Whelan offered up a similar word of warning for Klopp back in January in The Herald, saying: “In my day, a good rule of thumb was always to avoid unnecessary exposure to journalists and television cameras. Anyone who was ‘busy’ with the media was frowned open and put simply, not trusted.
“Kenny Dalglish was famous for his impenetrable answers and sitting on the other side of the fence now I can appreciate the difficulties journalists have to cope with. But at the time I thought it was hilarious and just what I wanted from the gaffer. He saw the media as the enemy and operated on that basis throughout his career.”
Whelan’s first question was what is in it for Liverpool Football Club? It was a view echoed by another ex-pro, Alan Shearer.
As great a watch as Klopp is, not sure of the upside for him doing this tonight?
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) September 26, 2016
First off, is the feel-good among fans. Most sets of supporters put their managers on a mantle. At Liverpool this is perhaps truer than anywhere else. Our bosses are deified. And after a break from tradition that has witnessed Liverpool employ six managers in 18 years after previously only turning to four bosses in 32, we’re needy.
Klopp is comfortable and charismatic when it comes to dealing with the media. He was a pundit in Germany on a very similar show to Monday Night Football. The nation wasn’t bearing witness to a shrinking violet overcome by butterflies in the stomach when the red light read live. This was a seasoned media professional talking with confidence and knowledge — saying what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. Klopp was in complete control.
A glance at social media tells you Liverpool fans enjoyed it. The event of the Liverpool manager on prime time TV — and that’s what it was, an event — was live blogged by The Liverpool Echo and became news in itself.
If Liverpool fans enjoyed it, is it a big leap to suggest Liverpool players enjoyed it, too?
Everything we see on the pitch, and everything we hear about off it, suggests Klopp and his squad are tight knit. It’s key to the Klopp approach: the hugs, the chest bumps, the piggy backs. The players like him, respect him and work hard for him.
Seeing the boss crack his punditry gig on TV while taking some gentle ribbing about his playing days can’t have hurt. So what’s the downside? Did he give away any secrets about Liverpool’s play? With the amount of analysts employed by Premier League clubs these days — plus everything that can be gleaned from Liverpool’s performances on TV so far — that’s a tough one to argue. It’s no secret what Liverpool do or how they do it. It’s stopping them that’s proving the problem for the opposition.
Klopp talked in an interesting — and fairly simple — way about the game. The wider world enjoyed it, Klopp’s stock remained high and Liverpool felt good.
More, it was interesting how Klopp’s appearance was lapped up by rival fans. “I wonder will we see Pep Guardiola or José Mourinho on Monday Night Football?” asked Whelan in his column. Perhaps more pertinent a question is, how many Manchester City or Manchester United fans would love to see their manager on Monday Night Football behaving in such an engaging manner?
Jurgen Klopp was class on #MNF. Don't give a shit who he manages.
— Danny Kay (@DKay_99) September 27, 2016
And again, is it beyond the realms to suggest that players all around the football world were sat there thinking “I wish I played for Jürgen Klopp” (and perhaps even better, having negative thoughts about their own managers).
Klopp’s appearance on MNF even prompted an article from the satirical website The Daily Mash, detailing how Britain’s football fans would like Jurgen Klopp as their stepdad.
It’s hardly damaging for everyone to think the manager of Liverpool is great, is it?
Klopp is box office and he, his agent, his advisors, and Liverpool Football Club’s public relations and media teams will know this all too well.
To bastardise a popular Anfield Wrap phrase, When Jürgen Klopp Bosses An Interview, We All Boss An Interview (Might struggle to get that one on a cup, Gibbo…).
The point is, Klopp has this in his armoury. It’s not affecting the day job. It doesn’t demean him in the eyes of players or fans. And it might work to Liverpool’s advantage both in terms of selling the club to future potential signings and in reminding the rest of the world that we have one of the best in the manager’s chair.
Football and its relationship with the media has moved on significantly from the times that Whelan references and the media game is an essential one for managers to play. Yes, Brendan Rodgers got it wrong at times. He sometimes said the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong times; trying to sell his own worth when his mistakes were clear to see.
But this is a different man, at a different time with a different standing in the game. With a different motivation, no doubt, too. His recent rash of appearances in the mainstream media comes at a time when Liverpool are flying; when everything suggests that Klopp’s methods are having the desired effect.
Klopp and the people around him aren’t stupid. Quite the opposite. There will be strategy behind this. Whelan suggests Klopp needs to learn to say no but you can be sure he already has. Requests for time with Klopp will beam their way into Liverpool FC’s offices on a daily basis. He’s recently said yes to a few. You can be sure he’s said no to many more.
We’ve seem from Klopp’s press conferences — now a must-watch for Liverpool fans — that he can manipulate the media to bow to his agenda. He only talks about what he wants to talk about. There is a respect for him there. He laughs and jokes, and shows off the beardy grin at every opportunity. But the expression can quickly shift to a frown if the question is one he doesn’t want to field.
Take for instance how often he bats away talk of individuals. Or how “rumours” around Daniel Sturridge were given short shrift.
Inside a year, Klopp has made it clear that he is the man at Liverpool; a de facto boss. He sets the agenda, he makes the decisions and he doesn’t suffer fools. In the past we have witnessed grating Sky Sports reporters like Geoff Shreeves and Andy Burton treat Liverpool managers with little respect. The lines of questioning, even attempts to doorstep personal space jarred when watching interviews with Rafa Benitez and Kenny Dalglish.
Can you imagine either of them trying that with a 6ft 4ins Klopp?
Liverpool’s current manager knows how tough the task ahead is in what he himself described as the toughest league in the world. He knows how high the expectations are at Liverpool and he is quickly and cleverly identified some the things that have held the club back.
Much of that is mental: a team that was too easily beaten; a fanbase that was took quick to offer ire to those it pays to support.
Klopp’s answer to much of that and more is to encourage enjoyment. And if we all think the right man is at the top, then that’s more likely. The media appearances are part of that. It’s us getting to know him — buying into what he can do; thinking about what it must be like to be on a training pitch with this man week in, week out.
Managerial comparisons with Bill Shankly always draw a muffled chuckle from outside the Liverpool bubble and when it comes to Klopp he clearly has much to do to be mentioned in the same breath as an Anfield legend in future decades.
But where a parallel can be drawn is his engagement with the media, his knowledge of his own worth and his cultivation of an aura.
For all the hand-wringing around being so open and accessible not being “The Liverpool Way”, it’s worth remembering that at times Shankly was just that.
The pre and post-match press conferences that are now the accepted norm of the football media world were in fact born on Merseyside with the approval of Shankly. He later even had his own show on Radio City.
Broadcaster and journalist John Keith, who will soon be a guest on an Anfield Wrap special about the media, said on Shankly.com: “Shankly loved the limelight, he basked in publicity. Shankly’s use of the press was to bolster his team and Liverpool’s image, rather than to trick opponents.”
Perhaps, like Klopp, Shankly realised the power in football of telling your story, your way. Because then, and even more so now, if you don’t, someone else will.
While Liverpool are winning and doing well, media appearances that the boss bosses are nothing to cry over. In fact, as Rodgers once said, they are all part of the dance.
- For more discussion on Jürgen Klopp and the football media, listen to our Back Page Show.
One important thing I think you may have missed is he is doing it for his own image and future commercial contracts. It is hard to walk around Germany without seeing his face advertising something on a billboard, a cut out of him in the supermarket or on telly doing adverts. He is literally everywhere. He is a marketers dream as he seems to be liked by everyone, men and woman – not just BVB fans.
How do you **know* that he is “doing it for his own image and future commercial contract”? In what way is that something, an “important thing” no less, that Gareth may have missed?
This is your conjecture, your speculation. You are working backwards from ‘effects’ (past and anticipated future effects) of his media participation and related activities on his advertising and commercial success to imputed intentions and purposes (“he is doing it for . . .”).
That he is a “marketer’s dream as he seems to be liked by everyone, men and women – not just BVB fans” (which is true) does not logically entail that he appears in the media (not in commercials and adverts) IN ORDER TO maintain and improve his image and to secure future commercial contracts. That is, actually, a scurrilous inference.
I live in Germany and I think you’re exaggerating. Klopp has always done media stuff. Back in 2006 he was a studio pundit during the World Cup whilst manager of Mainz. He will earn contracts because he has a certain persona and charm. He doesn’t need to do MNF to get a beer commercial in Germany!?
Wise up. Whens the last time you ‘walked around Germany’! :-))))
Let’s just allow Klopp and his entourage the freedom and the space to build Liverpool into a pwoerful and major force in English Football again. Klopp reminds me of Shanks in so many ways. His ability to reduce the pressure on the players and instill confidence within them is amazing. Klopp knows what he is doing, and Ronnie Whelan’s comments can be deemed unnecessary.
Klopp was great value.Informative,engaging,humorous.He talked about tactics,formations and players and teams in a way that I’ve never witnessed from a Manager before.And no hint of crticism for any of them.
But then he gave away our big secret! In not so may words he said any team could play like us…..if they had our players!
First off good article. Now… Ronnie Whelan. Great player but awful pundit and commentator. We have to listen to him in Ireland all of the time and he really doesn’t have a clue about most things. Basically here he is saying that becasue Brendan Rodgers messed up with the media that no other Liverpool manager forever more can talk to the media. Like seriously what is the chap smoking!? We have an extremely talented manager and one of his talents is working with the media so of course it should be used like any other talent. We saw last year how much of a douche Roberto Martinez made of himself doing the same thing last year. This is because he doesn’t have a talent like Jurgen Klopp.
Talk about a fuss over nothing.
Managers do interviews, all of them, most are forgetable, hence we probably don’t realise how much they do, whereas Jürgen Klopp is as the forefront, and is never boring, so he sticks in the mind.
Yes the MNF thing was a bit different, as it was an hour long show, but otherwise. he’s doing nothing different to most high profile managers.
And as for Ronnie Whelan, cringeworthy stuff, why even repeat it here? To even say the name Brendan Rodgers in the same breath as Jürgen Klopp is an embarrassment. There is no comparison.
Lets just enjoy Jürgen Klopp, and not disect every single thing he does in the media and make a bigger thing out of it than it needs to be.
Excellent article Gareth- and so right. If Klopp doesn’t tell it his way it’s up to theorists and cynics to harp on about ‘gegenpreasing’ being the only thing in his locker.
Man City spent £150m or so for Guardiola wishes and dismissed another £150m of players from Nasri and Hart to freezing out Toure. That’s £300 million thrown in a single transfer window!! Why shouldn’t Guardiola be winning games- that figure would sink 99% of world clubs.
Klopp in the meantime generates a £17 million PROFIT bringing in unknowns and non-marquees yet produces devastating football of a higher degree than PG- without an Aguero, De Bruyne, Nolito, Sterling or Silva. Yet the media and general public are in awe of City who are only paying pennies back for the fortune to date. They still strike me as boys and we as men- so hurry up New Years Eve!!
Football matches are often won before they’re played. Teams went to Auld Triffids before and dropped 9 players to save them for their next encounter to closer opposition teams. Reputations preceed matches and a bit of fear of The Reds from now on will lower opposition expectations and a 2 or 3 goal dressing down might be viewed as a good result for some teams before long.
As you said, Shanks had no problem expressing his views, plans and expectations of his players. LFC players watching on Monday night would be proud to a man watching and his words would be familiarly reassuring to remind them of the big picture he espouses to them daily.
As you say, his methods are well documented for years and repeated readily at Press Conferences- yet other managers are not necessarily benefiting from his candour- they just don’t know how to deal with it Look no further than his own Dortmund in April – and that was before the more refined football machine we see now.
But from now on- opposition players that viewed and heard about his strategies will have a different outlook of respect when taking the field against us. Shanks knew this. Klopp knows this. Unlike Ferguson’s ‘mind games’ his words and sincerity are appreciated and a breath of fresh air.
Why shouldn’t we and the football world benefit from the thinking of great managers? I hope the others follow as our subscriptions to the likes of Sky pays their wages and buys their teams- Klopp’s contribution embellishes our knowledge of what we are paying to be watching.
And that is good. 100% as JK’d say:-)
I’m particularly glad you wrote this article as it puts Ronnie Whelan back into his box. He never sees the bigger picture and is totally disrespectful of a previous manager that had to cope so well under so very different circumstances. Here’s a guy that totally dismissed our CL place chances. Further on in that article he turns 360 degrees (like Mane last Saturday to score) to grudgingly admit we’re actually Title Contenders now. Wait till Christmas and he might realise we could win the bloody thing too.
Nice article Gareth. And nice post Peter. I agree that Klopp’s taken a more positive approach with the media, not a casual one.
Swansea up next – just need to keep reminding ourselves of the Burnleys and not underestimate a team that has been beaten twice by MC.
Up the Reds!!!
Great read, brilliantly structured and well-argued. To be honest I’d say Ronnie is just filling a column, with views which sound like they’re very much of the “in my day” variety. Kenny had his own style, Klopp has his. One thing I will agree with Whelan on is Brendan Rodgers but, as you say, “Rodgers got it wrong at times…But this is a different man, at a different time with a different standing in the game”. Just because one man made mistakes, it doesn’t mean another will. If he can play the media game effectively (and as you point out, he was a pundit in Germany for years), then it will make his life a whole lot easier in the long run. We’ve seen Liverpool managers over the last few years, particularly Dalglish himself in 2012 and before him Rafa Benítez in 2009/10, men who usually kept the mainstream media at a distance (and didn’t we love them for that), getting savaged in the press when things started to go wrong. It’s a clever move if Klopp can tame them a little bit, and he certainly looks like a natural so far.
Yes. It’s great when your stock is high and the club is on a bit of a run but if that changes I doubt people will be so mellow about it.
On second thought, maybe I was disappointed at how little rapport and understanding there appeared to be between Jamie Carragher and our gaffer. The ‘conversation’ did not really flow, the banter did not really work, Jamie seemed to be asking the same question over and over again, not really listening to or comprehending what Klopp was actually saying.
My first impression after watching the MNF Klopp Special was that it was the first time that I had not enjoyed a Klopp major media appearance. Clearly, I am in the minority.
I enjoy and respect Gareth’s opinions, judgments and analysis, more than I do most people’s when it comes to LFC. His basic premise, with Whelan appearing as the ‘representative’ of the counter position, was well taken. The argument build around it was convincing. I just did not really enjoy that last Klopp media appearance.
I understand what you are saying. There was definitely something lacking in the communication between Carra and the Boss. In spite of this I thoroughly enjoyed the show and loved listening to Klopp explain our tactics. I hope he continues to make himself available because represents Liverpool so well. We are so lucky to have him.
Any comment – such as Whelan’s – that begins with the sentence ‘In my day’ should immediately be disregarded. It is possibly the worst footballing cliche.
Klopp makes talking about football interesting. For a professional manager that truly is remarkable. Aside from Rafa or Kenny, I don’t know that I could listen to another football manager talk about football for more than thirty seconds.
I’m against it; I’m with Whelan, but you make a fair point: we’re not in the Champions league, and he’s our biggest star. He has to do it for the benefit of LFC and signing future players.
What a fuss about nothing.
I just read Ronnie Whelan’s article I didn’t see anything wrong in his views over Klopp appearance in fact he did suggest the potential positive that might be behind Klopp’s thinking in taking part in these interviews. Remember Whelan played under two great managers in who are both reserved when it came to the media
For me, all I know is a Klopp is a very smart guy who after a year of seeing him manage Liverpool I feel is almost like a composer. He has expectations of his players,of the fans and of the media. In all cases he sets up spaces of potentiality and actuality in all those factors which only helps the club succeed. He is Liverpool’s only box office ticket since Gerrard left the club that title has not been filled by a player. Its the first time in decades that Liverpool don’t have a household name player. So people need to remember how much off a coup it was getting Klopp to Liverpool last year and with these TV appearances with are going along with great performances the club is on the brink of eating from the top table again Klopp is letting everyone know that. The true success of if this works will be of the treatment of players like Firmino Mane and Lallana becoming household names.
Everyone loves Jurgen Klopp, even fans of our rivals. He plays the media like a pro and was great on MNF so his appearance only enhances his image and that of the club.
The only risk in my mind of doing this kind of thing is if he somehow helps other teams by revealing insights about our tactics and his philosophy. However he explained himself so charismatically and in such simple terms that you came away with the impression that the only way to emulate us is by having our players with our manager, and that it doesn’t really matter what you do, we’ll still be all over you
Excellent article, Gareth. Biggest asset we currently have at LFC is Klopp. And rightly or wrongly, he is helping to build LFC brand to be bigger than ever globally. LFC marketing and PR people (and FSG) are not stupid, they know the LFC and Klopp brand combination is reaching out to previously unknown Shores — you would be surprised how much LFC and Klopp are quoted in publications (online /offline) in places like Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, aussie, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, all over Middle East, Africa, USA and even south America. This can only do good for LFC in the long run.
On a footballing front, this positive image and publicity, combined with our upside wins and style of play,and a real team-first image, majority of players who are hungry to play real football within the real family/team would be waiting by the phone for a call from Klopp, ready to jump into such exciting and happy opportunity.
All good. Up the positive Reds!!!
Whelan’s ‘back in my day’ stuff is tiresome. it’s not his day anymore. Times change. Klopp has been nothing but great for the club, and as long as his public persona doesn’t negatively effect his game preparation then I only see it as a positive.
The media is such a huge part of the game now it’s better to be able to embrace it in the multifaceted way klopp can. It’s great to be able to actually look forward to his analysis of a game and bat back the predictable media questions. I’d take Jurgen media flirting any day over watching a manager moan on about referees (any ideas?) every game, the complainers, the moaners, the clueless, the hopelessly fucking boring.