Jurgen Klopp has earned the adoration from Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool fans thanks in no small part to his footballing philosophy.
A promotion with Mainz was followed by a number of trophy-laden years at Dortmund, and Klopp has led Liverpool to three finals in three years at Anfield – including a remarkable run to the Champions League decider.
But what makes the German so special? We’ve taken a look at quotes from the man himself and those who have worked with and against him to explain his philosophy.
Klopp is famed for his “heavy metal” football, and he coined that phrase when describing the difference between his sides and those of Arsene Wenger.
“He likes having the ball, playing football, passes. It’s like an orchestra. But it’s a silent song. I like heavy metal more. I always want it loud.”
After Hull City were thrashed 5-1 a Anfield, Davies tried to explain how it felt to defend against Klopp’s men.
“They are a side which literally plays with Henderson and the two centre-halves at the back and the rest can go wherever they want.
“That is not an ill-disciplined thing. That is organised. That is what causes all the problems – the inter-changing, the good football, the passing…”
Lijnders, who returned to Liverpool to become Klopp’s assistant after a brief spell in charge of NEC, suggests the Reds boss places more importance on what happens off the field.
“Jurgen creates a family. We always say: 30 per cent tactic, 70 per cent teambuilding,” he said in an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volksrant.
He added: “20 years ago, PSV had six, seven players who played football seven years at the club, with two foreigners. Those six players decided what really happened.
“When coming into contact with a top coach, they won. Now there are not six, seven more players who remain six years. In modern football, the coach therefore [is] the most important person for clarity.
“He needs to bring all the cultures, all these identities, bring together. ”
A characteristic of Klopp’s Liverpool is their tendency to score in bursts of two, three or four goals in quick succession.
Speaking to balls.ie, German football writer Hesse suggested that is directly indicative of Klopp’s philosophy.
“There was a lot of talk in the German media after the second leg (of Liverpool v Dortmund in the Europa League in 2016). How could Dortmund lose the game? After leading 3-1?
“There was a very good piece in Die Zeit that said modern coaches like Thomas Tuchel are from the Guardiola and Van Gaal School of Coaching. What these modern coaches value above all else is control, ‘we have to be in control at all times and we have to have the ball’.
“What Klopp likes is when things get out of control, because at that point it is all about emotion, about passion, and at that point it comes down to how much you want it. This is when Klopp’s teams are at their best.
“Klopp creates the situation in the game where it is no longer about tactics, but about getting stuck in and making tackles, and Dortmund lost their heads among this Klopp whirlwind.”
Professional footballers can live an indulged life, but Klopp is keen his players do not become too comfortable.
“It doesn’t make it any easier to run your heart out when you’ve just woken up in a five-star hotel. Too much comfort makes you comfortable.”
Likewise, he has been known to test his players with unique pre-season experiences.
“You can speak about spirit, or you can live it. We took the team to a lake in Sweden where there was no electricity. We went for five days without food.”
Some critics – most notably Raymond Verheijen – suggest Klopp overworks his players, leading to an increase in injuries.
Massey, Liverpool’s head of medical services, addressed those concerns and reflected on Klopp’s philosophy in an interview with the Liverpool Echo.
“Jurgen’s philosophy is very much that we’ve got to run further, run faster, run quicker than every other team because if we can do that then the skill will take over.
“So we’ve got to put the players in a position where they can do that. When Jurgen first came into the club, we tried to put that in there, but the boys weren’t up to that physical level yet to meet the demands.
“At one stage, we had 13 hamstring injuries but now, with the benefit of two pre-seasons, we’re seeing the boys work so much harder and they look like they’re more protected.”
Paul Scholes and Gary Neville revealed that Manchester United’s players were told to celebrate goals passionately as a team, and Klopp shares a similar sentiment.
“I show my team very often Barcelona but not the way they play. Just the way they celebrate goals. Goal number 5768 in the last few weeks and they go ‘Yeeeess’ like they never scored a goal.
“This is what I love about football. That’s what you have to feel all the time. Until you die. And then everything is OK.”
In an excellent profile of the German, Cooney highlights just how strong the bond between Klopp and his players is.
“The emotion requires the essence of Klopp’s character. Thomas Hitzlsperger says that for Gegenpressing to work, players can have no doubts. ‘You have to completely accept it. Whoever pulls you back and hesitates endangers the success of the team.’
“Klopp achieved this with his Dortmund squad: just as intense as the football was the bond fostered between Klopp and his players.
“When Shinji Kagawa left for Manchester United, the midfielder wept in Klopp’s arms for 20 minutes. When Mario Götze decided to leave for Bayern Munich, Klopp was left so bereft he had to leave work early and cancel a social engagement that night.”
The secret of playing Klopp’s style of football, according to Mane, is to be angry.
Speaking after Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth, which came just four days after they knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League, Mane said: “Before the game [Klopp] said we have to [show] our quality and be angry because every game is important.
“After the City game, you have to concentrate more because you usually know how it [can go]. He tried to motivate us like usually and in the end everybody was in the right place at the right time to win every ball.
“We played well and created many chances, scored three goals and it was well deserved.”
Klopp may appreciate Barcelona’s enthusiasm for goals, but he is not a a fan of their tika-taka style of play.
“It is not my sport. I don’t like winning with 80% [possession]. Sorry that is not enough for me. Fighting football, not serenity football, that is what I like.
“What we call in German ‘English’ — rainy day, heavy pitch, 5-5, everybody is dirty in the face and goes home and cannot play for weeks after.”
Former Mainz boss Wolfgang Frank, who introduced the 4-4-2 to German football, is often cited by Klopp as his biggest inspiration. Krawietz, Klopp’s assistant at Anfield, explained the significance of Frank’s work.
“Wolfgang Frank had an idea of football which was something like a revolution in Germany based on the Arrigo Sacchi style of pressing and defending.
“It was new in Germany to play in a back four and play this way. Mainz was the first to do it and the success was unbelievable. Frank was a very important person for all of us when he came to Mainz.”
Just hope none of his players have sex the night before a match.
“My players sleep in double rooms the night before the match. I hope that nothing happens.”
Klopp received criticism for the amount of money Liverpool spent on Alisson after suggesting the club will “doing things differently” in the wake of Manchester United’s £89million signing of Paul Pogba.
On changing his attitude towards transfers, Klopp said: “That’s the problem these days. Whatever bulls**t you say, nobody will forget it. On the other side, it is still kind of true. I couldn’t imagine the world would change like that from two-and-a-half years ago.
“One hundred million was a crazy amount of money. Since then the world has changed completely and we have signed the most-expensive goalkeeper and all that stuff.
“We don’t care what the world around us is thinking, like Man United didn’t care about what I said. It’s only an opinion in that moment.
“Did I change my opinion? Yes. That’s true. But it’s better to change your opinion than never have one.
“Whatever people say about that and bring it up again and again, I have had worse days in my life and worse things. I am fine with that. We have the players we wanted. I am fine with that.”
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