Jurgen Klopp now is in charge of a Liverpool house under construction. If all goes according to plan, he’ll engineer an on-field renaissance that will match the expansion of Liverpool’s historic stadium and guide the club’s ascent back toward the heights of a previous era.
Such is the weight of expectation Klopp shoulders into Anfield and the reason for the prevailing feeling of excitement.
Liverpool appointed Klopp on Thursday as its new manager. Klopp arrives at Anfield as a messianic figure, following the troubles Liverpool endured for the past year under previous manager Brendan Rodgers.
Klopp’s passion and energy should reignite the passion that ebbed during the subdued ending to Rodgers’ reign, but the German isn’t a complete departure from his predecessor. The managers actually have a lot in common. Rodgers, 42, and Klopp, 48, are young, charismatic and occupy successive places in Liverpool’s managerial history (19th and 20th). Both try to compete for top honors against teams with bigger budgets and players with more experience at the highest levels. But Klopp differs from Rodgers in key areas, which should bode well for his prospects for success at Liverpool.
Rodgers attempted to apply his ball-dominating philosophy before abandoning it in favor of pragmatism once results began to suffer. Klopp turned Borussia Dortmund into one of the darlings of European and German soccer through a combination of the force of his personality and his pragmatic approach to the game. Whereas Rodgers is a soccer romantic, pragmatism comes second nature to Klopp.
Why Klopp is a good pick
Rodgers has the potential to become a great manager. If Klopp isn’t there already, he’s much closer to the highest echelon than Rodgers. That’s why Klopp has been linked with Germany’s national team, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in recent years.
Timing and Liverpool’s recruitment sprint convinced Klopp to end his sabbatical early and take his talents to Anfield. His appointment is nothing short of a coup for the Reds.
Klopp’s stature in the soccer world excites everyone connected to Liverpool, and his track record as an innovator and winner should increase the current Liverpool players’ self-belief in little time.
The Borussia Dortmund challenge Klopp accepted and met is similar to the one he faces at Liverpool. Both clubs have rich histories and rabid fan bases, which are starving for success.
Klopp told UEFA.com in fall 2013 how he and Dortmund thrived together.
“Well, first of all, my colleagues and I are no magicians,” Klopp said. “The first point is to get the right players, try to recognize the potential, try to develop it and turn it into skills with the help of everyone involved.
“Generally I think we can make a team better with the way we work, with the way we train … but they have to be good already, that’s one condition! And then a playing philosophy that reflects your mentality, that reflects the club, that gives a direction to follow. That means taking the passion to its limits. Borussia Dortmund don’t just play for a result, Borussia Dortmund means an experience.”
The biggest risk we can identify is the possibility of one of Klopp’s biggest asset, his man-management ability, being less effective than previously.
Klopp squeezed the most out of his players by identifying with them as a boss and a friend. Those bonds transferred onto the field, as his players carried out his orders to the letter.
Klopp is moving to a new country, culture and style of soccer, and there’s a chance his methods might not translate across languages and cultures. After all, young men in Britain have different attitudes and tastes than those in Germany and Poland.
Time will tell if Klopp can meet the souls of his players again and coax that extra 10, 20, or 30 percent out of them or if his Dortmund experience was a case of lighting in a bottle. Fusing his emotions with those of the club won’t guarantee Klopp succeeds at a third club and his first in a new country, but it’s a first step that’s romantic, pragmatic, reasonable and wacky enough to work.
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