[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter his side’s 1-1 draw against Everton, Brendan Rodgers cut the appearance of a man who knew only too well he was on his way out: “Whether it’s me, or someone else in the job, it’ll take time”. Sure enough, within the hour, he was gone. Caput. See you later. You’ll never walk alone, they said…
Even at the death, Rodgers’ repeated excuses regarding Liverpool’s “constant re-building” (after losing Suarez and Sterling in consecutive summers) showcased exactly the same defeatist attitude and lack of ambition which infuriated Manchester United fans so much during David Moyes’ short lived tenure at Old Trafford. In both cases, the fans’ expectations combined with the club’s magnitude far outstripped the manager’s self-deprecating rhetoric. No-one doubts the difficulty of the job that was faced by either, but their lack of previous managerial experience at the very, very top was clear for all to see. So with a manager of the stature of Jürgen Klopp readily available and Liverpool in the midst of yet another malaise, there was only ever going to be one outcome. Brendan had to go.
Klopp is precisely the type of character that Liverpool with their wealth of history, trophies and success are deserving of. His enigmatic style and boundless enthusiasm marks a stark contrast to the relative colourlessness of previous appointees Hodgson, Daglish and Rodgers. Not only will Liverpool be a better place with him, but so will the Premier League.
Klopp’s best Borussia Dortmund teams played vollgas fußball, or full-throttle football. It’s exactly what we should expect from his new-look Liverpool side too. In Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge etc. Klopp has his Reus, Mkhitaryan, and Aubameyang – or close enough. These are players of the perfect mould to implement his ‘gegenpressing’ philosophy; to harass and press the opponent into making the mistake, seize possession, then make the lightning-quick transition from defence into attack. Countering the counter, if you will. Clinical, cut throat and eye-catching.
His enigmatic style and boundless enthusiasm marks a stark contrast to the relative colourlessness of previous appointees Hodgson, Daglish and Rodgers.
That seemingly incompatible, yet highly effective, blend of high-pressing and counter-attacking, hitting teams on the break with irrepressible pace and precision, was on show from this Liverpool team (with Christian Benteke as the spear-head, no less) during the first half at the Emirates back in August in the Premier League. Klopp’s players are clearly capable of implementing his philosophy then. Putting into practice the theoretical, releasing the potential and regularly, has always been the crux of the game of course. What separated good mangers from great ones. Time will tell if Klopp can.
One of the most important things any incoming foreign Premier League manager can do is to get the media on their side from the outset. On his first Friday morning, charm the English press Jürgen did. The ‘normal one’ he proclaimed himself: “I am a normal guy. I come from the Black Forest. My mother is probably sat at home now watching this, not able to understand a word of what I am saying but very proud.” Those self-professed humble roots, that affiliation with where he has come from, points in some way to the reason above all others why Klopp will see success at ‘pool. The emotionally charged nature of the manager’s job at Liverpool requires an individual with a driven, aspirational, go-get-‘em mentality, and just as much passion as the fans have. Understanding and solidarity between the faithful and the coach is key. It almost always existed between The Yellow Wall and Klopp during his time there. Liverpool’s similarly spirited supporters can look forward to more of the same with their new manager.
“I am a normal guy. I come from the Black Forest. My mother is probably sat at home now watching this, not able to understand a word of what I am saying but very proud.”
There’s no chance of a honeymoon period, however: the next four fixtures in the league see them face Chelsea and Manchester City away, while taking on Southampton and Crystal Palace at home. Sandwich potential banana skins against Rubin Kazan (Europa League) and Bournemouth (League Cup) in there somewhere, and you have a very challenging first few weeks’ worth of fixtures.
This has all been rather hard to say I should point out, as an Arsenal fan, before I’m derided as just yet another deluded Kop-fanatic. Arsene’s contract expiration in 2017 suddenly appears much further away now… But even at this early stage, it seems to me to be that Klopp’s the right man for the Kop.