Klopp's Liverpool blueprint can be traced to his first press conference
In this file photo taken on March 07, 2020 Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp reacts at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England.
Geoff Caddick/AFP
Klopp's Liverpool blueprint can be traced to his first press conference
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - July 1, 2020 - 11:57am

MANILA, Philippines — Is Jurgen Klopp a prophet?

The blueprint for Klopp’s success with Liverpool Football Club can be traced to his very first press conference for the Mersey-side club on October 9, 2015.

The 53-year-old German completed the arduous task of bringing home the storied football team’s first premier League title and 19th domestic league championship; a wait that took 30 years. And this is in addition to the other three pieces of silverware he has won – the 2019 UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, and now the Premier League.

And here are some quotes that foreshadowed all his efforts for Liverpool dating back from that first presser.

“The most important is development. And it is a good moment for a re-start. It is only important we only play our own game.”

That refers to the pace-changing tactical innovations brought by Klopp to Liverpool.

Among the tactical innovations Klopp brought into Liverpool was the development of previous underwhelming players into world-class players.

Mohammad Salah scored 15 goals for AS Roma but 32 in his first year with Liverpool. Sadio Mane managed 11 with Southampton and doubled it to 22 in his first year in Anfield.  

In his first two years, we saw some of the game Klopp introduced to Dortmund with its gegenpressing. But they still coughed up a lot of goals and were vulnerable to set pieces.

Playing a 4-3-3 with high-pressing and attacking wing backs.

In Dortmund, Klopp used a 4-2-3-1 formation on offense and during his first year at Liverpool.

On defense, he played 4-1-4-1.

He had players playing from box-to-box like Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and James Milner.

He utilized Roberto Firmino in a way where he could play alongside Mane and Salah on top or drop deep where his 1v1 skills allowed his to beat the press and slip balls through for Mane or Salah.

He found the right chemistry as Dejan Lovren played well alongside Virgil Van Dijk with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson playing exceptional roles as attacking wingbacks. 

Their ability to bring up the ball and feed teammates with their destructive crosses gave Liverpool a frightening attack.

Klopp infused a lot of speed, flexibility into his players that allowed them to start the attack or even finish it off or defend higher and use their speed to track back.

He unveiled his ideas as manager at Mainz. Improved it while at Borussia Dortmund then perfected it in Liverpool.

He recruited players and brought up academy players who complemented the first team.

The sale of Philippe Coutinho brought in goalkeeper Allison Becker from AS Roma and Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton. 

Their addition transformed the team and they now had dependable players in both goal and central defense. 

They picked up Robertson from a relegated Hull squad and brought up Alexander-Arnold from the Academy. 

Klopp made full use of his academy players as he brought up Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, and Rhian Brewster who have impressed as well. 

“If somebody wants to help LFC they have to change from doubter to believer.”

There was the match against West Brom in 2018 where Liverpool equalized very late in the game for a 2-2 draw. After the match, he brought the team over to the Kop and saluted the fans. 

It was a gesture that many did not understand and the German was roundly criticized for that. 

Said Klopp after, “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. We know without them we wouldn’t play on our highest level, no chance. You have to appreciate that and it’s very easy for me, but it’s still very different routines in England and in Germany.”

“There was a big misunderstanding against West Brom. I wanted to say thank you to the supporters after that game so I took my team towards the Kop to do it and there was a discussion everywhere about it. For me, it was ‘why should we even discuss that? But I had to learn that English people are not used to that kind of thing.”

And after the loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League, he joined some Liverpool fans in singing about doing it and winning it again. 

At this time, people were wondering if Klopp was indeed the man who could get them over the hump. He was now 0-3 in title competitions for Liverpool.

Well, Liverpool did win the Champions League the next season. And after falling short by one point to Manchester City in the 2018-19 Premier League season, they won it now to go with the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. 

Said Klopp in 2015, “Twenty-five years ago is a long time and the people try to get better and improve and take the next title.  Let’s try to start a new way. This is the perfect moment to do this because now everything is new. Try to start very emotional football. This is important for Anfield. We have to do together. We have to feel together.” 

“I need the other people to get perfect information.”

Jurgen mentioned this in his introductory presser. Aside from the usual coaches, Klopp has brought in specialists who have made a huge impact in Liverpool’s fortunes.

Klopp has hailed Liverpool’s head of nutrition Mona Nemmer as his only world-class signing in July of 2016. And true enough, the improved food and diet has helped the players from the club burst out of the gates and perform the demands that Klopp’s game requires. 

Nemmer began her work with Germany’s Under-21 squads before she was brought into Bayern Munich. After Pep Guardiola left Bayern for Man City, Liverpool poached her away.

However, it isn’t only Nemmer who has made an impact off the field. There is strength and conditioning coach Andreas Kornmayer who has really whipped the team into superb shape as well. 

And there is Ian Graham who crunches data for Liverpool’s coaches to chew on. And they even have a throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark. And quite remarkably, Liverpool has gone from the Premier League’s third-worst throw-in-retain-possession rate to the best. 

“If I sit here in four years, we won title in this time. if not, the next one, maybe Switzerland.”

This one elicited a laugh from the assembly of reporters during that first press conference. Klopp won the Champions League in his fourth year then added the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, and the much-coveted Premier League title in his fifth year. The man is now a legend.

And that brings us to his last quote.

“When I left Dortmund, my last sentence maybe were, ‘It is not so important what people think when you come in. It is much more important what people think when you leave.’”

The man is a hero and while he dismissed the idea of a statue outside Anfield Stadium, for sure, one will be erected. Furthermore, you bet every club with the money to burn will try and poach him after 2022 when his contract with Liverpool expires.

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