Why Klopp is the most important figure to arrive at Liverpool since Sir Kenny
On 9th October 2015, Jurgen Klopp sat and faced the press for the first time as Liverpool manager. Within minutes he had the majority of people in the room chuckling, engaged and eventually eating out of the palm of his hand.
While we may not have known it at the time, we were already on a collision course with destiny. This was the dawn of something truly special at our beloved club
A week on from the glory that was Madrid, as we all sit, still drinking in the beautiful reality of a sixth European Cup win; it is fair to say that our manager has delivered us all from doubters to believers, just as he said he would back on that autumn day in 2015.
Six times, that’s a good solid number isn’t it!? There is something quite different as well about European glory. The imperious, domineering trophy, the weight of history it holds back and the altogether higher plain that it delivers you to one you get your hands on it. Thanks to our wonderfully eccentric boss, we now have six titles of our own. Six.
As I watched the players engulf their manager at full time, some of them in tears, all of them drunk on the enormity of what we’d achieved; it became so obvious to me that this wonderfully mad man is the best and most important thing to happen to our club in generations.
That may sound a touch dramatic, however, if you stop consider it for a moment; you can hardly argue that there has been any other man to arrive at L4 and make such an emotional, seismic impact at our beloved club since Sir Kenny arrived on 10th August 1977.
A good bit of perspective always helps whenever such statements are made so let’s get some. You have to consider the timing of Klopp’s appointment.
Anyone will tell you, if you don’t easily recall, just how badly a funk of pessimism had set in at Anfield, in the preceding years to the German’s appointment.
Defeats tallying up to double figures had become the new normal at Liverpool. 55 painful embarrassing losses were recorded in the Premier League across five seasons between 2010/11 and 2014/15. The club’s average league position in this time hovered around a lowly sixth in the table and people were actually trying to persuade themselves that Rodgers was on to something when he opted to play Emre Can at on the right side of a mid-table back three.
It was a time where you felt you simply could not relate to the players on the pitch. They didn’t seem embarrassed or hurt by defeat. Nothing seemed to be learnt from any of the myriad issues on the field as lower standards became accepted. Anfield grew quiet and more subdued with seemingly each passing season.
The force of nature and giddy enjoyment that is Jurgen Klopp has eradicated this gloom, these past three years, ushering in an era of unbridled fun and restored pride. The players strut their stuff with belief and fierce determination; with a team spirit this is unlike anything I have seen at my club.
Now you’d be right to say that Klopp is not the first good manager we have appointed in my chosen time-frame for this piece.
Rafa Benitez and Gerard Houllier instilled an excellent decade of success and multiple honours. Of course, Rafa himself brought back Ol’ Big Ears with his miraculous victory in Istanbul. He was also at the heart of the confrontation with Gillet and Hicks, fighting the good fight which rallied a lot fans in to vociferous action against that horrific duo.
However, what makes Klopp so important to us right now transcends his top class ability as a football manager.
The German’s affable, endearing character and spirit has served to bind together a fan base that was quite fractured and disheartened for so long. All you need to do is take a trip to the ground these days and there is not one person with a genuine bad word to say about the boss or his brand of football. No matter how much I loved Rafa and even Houllier to be fair, the same cannot be said for either of them, despite their many successes.
Klopp has reignited an indomitable togetherness over the past three years and sought to create a steely bond with the fan base.
No other manager in modern times has harnessed the pulsating, atomised energy levels of the Anfield crowd quite like Jurgen Klopp. Like Shankly before him, he understands how vital it is to engender such a spirit and unity with the supporters. Yes results help, but so too does that extra element, of which Shanks himself was such advocate: natural enthusiasm.
He was derided for talking his players to celebrate with the Kopp after a dramatic 2-2 with West Brom, just months in to his tenure. But even then, he was reaching out to the fans, getting them on his side. He needed them if he was to make this work. Speaking with Joe.com back in 2018, the manager’s methods are made crystal clear:
“I really wanted from the first day that the people know about their importance…In football, people always say it – that supporters are important – but then you don’t treat them like that so you have to make sure it’s really a healthy relationship.”
Again, Klopp is not the first manager to stride to Anfield and win trophies and fiercely loyal friends. It’s what he has created in his tenure thus far that makes him unique.
You only to look at our real rivals up the M62, as well as in West and North London; there is neither the unity nor the sheer enjoyment from the fans or the players. What Klopp has forged here is wonderfully unique in a modern game plagued by spoiled brat players and ludicrous ticket prices.
From the players, fans background staff and even supposed neutrals in the media; you can see the engagement, admiration and fondness for Klopp and his brand of bonkers football. He is infectious and we should enjoy every single second of his tenure at Anfield. It still feels monumental to have him at Anfield.
As he was hoisted up and thrown in to the air by his cohort of top class footballs at the Wanda Metripoliano last Saturday, you could sense that bond that Klopp has worked so tirelessly to create.
The club feels on the cusp of something and the fun has been pumped back in with reckless abandon. Like the manager, the players are an easy bunch to love, and with their own history now forged off the back of so many near missed in recent years, you get a sense that our sixth European Cup could well usher in a new era of honours. Danke Jurgen!