HE doesn’t give a shit does he, old Kloppo?
There he is going nuts on the touchline against Sunderland; first berating one moaning, negative dickhead, then offering the whole of the Main Stand out.
After the game, my Dad — who loved Jürgen Klopp much earlier than I did — intimated that Klopp needs to be a bit careful. He reminded me, and stated correctly that the Main Stand, and indeed Anfield, is full of old men who feel the cold of a winter’s day. It is absolutely not a bouncing Teutonic hotbed of sinewy lads with their tops off.
We hear regularly this manager is the perfect fit for Liverpool and in many footballing ways he is, but the requirement for him to coach, cajole and rouse our home crowd goes way beyond the job description.
Klopp should be at Crystal Palace really; conducting their little mob of black-clad ultras. Instead, he’s director of an old people’s home, which stands on the footprint of the shrine which once rocked to a St Etienne beat.
The good news is that Klopp is winning this laborious, necessary struggle.
Our manager isn’t just winning football matches but winning a tussle of minds with our ageing, innately conservative, fearful home crowd.
Mercifully we have the master conductor. He’s nearly 50 (I know this because we were born exactly a month apart in 1967) but he breathes the fire of a young man. Thankfully Jürgen Klopp is athletic, hairy, angry and insane, and he’s just what we need.
Not so much the perfect fit as just what the doctor ordered; a sustaining medicine that keeps us old guys compos mentis for one last league title.
Imagine Roy Hodgson doing that what Klopp did last week. Not only would his peculiar form be contorted into the weirdest of shapes but his arm would probably come off, fly over the truss and end up in Dog Shit Alley.
There is a serious point to all this.
Klopp isn’t shouting at everyone because he wants to finish top four. This is all about winning the league. The fact he can’t say so publicly is an indictment of our timid mentality. Some of the old stagers won’t admit it; some of the new breed just can’t see it. And sadly, loads inside Anfield for a home league game don’t even feel it.
In my bit of The Kop, and no doubt in your seat or front room, Divock Origi’s winning goal last Saturday was celebrated like a cup final winner. Yes, greeted with the same relief felt when you find your cash-card but with unbridled ecstasy too. How annoying then to see on Match of the Day the lower reaches of the Kop, to a man wearing brown leather driving gloves, offer just polite applause.
Get on board, knobheads — or let the kids in.
The type of football Liverpool have played at Anfield this season would have had crowds from years gone by shouting about it from the rooftops.
“We’re gonna win the League.”
“We shall not be moved.”
“Ole, Ole, Ole, We are the Champions.”
They rained down from the Kop in anticipation of the next title. It was all part of the process, to give players belief, months and months before red ribbons adorned the trophy.
To air such songs now would bring shouts of “don’t jinx it” from those conditioned by years of waiting. The fear is that we’ll end up looking stupid; but that’s no way to embrace a title challenge.
When Klopp had his mad moment last week it was more of a wake-up call than a bollocking. He’s telling us we’re in with a massive shout and what’s needed is a massive shout – from the crowd.
Quiet hushed conservatism brings only anxiety that transmits to the pitch. Most of us are too fat to take our tops off but the least we can do is bring some energy to override the angst. Klopp has well and truly got our number and he’s calling us out – again. It’s a year on from his feeling “alone” moment against Crystal Palace and he senses that not much has changed.
If we’re going to win this title we all need to be on the same page and that means mirroring the zest, the brio and the balls this gang of young lads are bringing to the actual footy.
“I believe in atmosphere, I think it’s a big, big part of the game, part of the joy. Atmosphere is more than a detail…it makes everything easier.”
What doesn’t make it easier is holding back, dreading the worst, not wanting to look foolish and generally being a miserable old twat. We may or may not win this league but let’s not die wondering. It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Fight the fear with passion; embrace the tension and feed off it.
The players can keep their calm, and are ably demonstrating so through their patient, precise probing and an 11-match unbeaten run, but it’s alright for us to lose in the stands our shit. We should be kicking every ball and, for us, it doesn’t matter if we slice the odd one into the Kemlyn.
Injuries are mounting, games are getting harder, and goals will perhaps be in shorter supply. This is exactly the time when a team needs its fans; when the symbiotic relationship leans more on one partner than the other.
It’s colder, darker and the threat of points dropped seems more acute than during the heady days of summer and autumn. These are actually the periods when titles are won; when strength is drawn from adversity, everyone pulls together and we grind things out. I know because I’ve seen it countless times before from great Liverpool teams, and some that at times were distinctly average. In 1983/4, when we ended up with a treble in Rome, we were for the most part, fucking crap.
As we enter Advent, that we’re not winning by four, five and six every week isn’t to signify hopes about to be dashed or that “one of those days” is in the offing. From the mood of the crowd, that was nearly the case last week and Klopp was right to act in a manner that says “I’m just not having this — and neither are you”.
In Jürgen’s head, it is time to circle the wagons until we get dizzy. Or, at least until Philippe Coutinho is fit again.
While Klopp is very much the believer, many of his staunchest fans are still doubters. Nigh on 30 years of pain has seen to that. In that sense, Klopp most definitely is not the perfect fit with many of the lucky ones who are privileged to watch this title bid.
But, week-by-week, he is bending us to his will.
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