Ten of the best & biggest revelations from new Jurgen Klopp biography
If you want to know more about Jurgen Klopp’s tactics, man-management, personality and his plans for Liverpool, Raphel Honigstein’s new book, Klopp: Bring the Noise is a must read.
Klopp: Bring the Noise is a fascinating biography of Klopp, built from extensive and exclusive interviews with those closest to the German.
There are plenty of revealing moments in the book that makes it a must-read for any fan of Klopp and his gegenpressing football, but here we pick out 10 of the best:
1) Klopp had many approaches from Premier League clubs, including a bizarre pitch from Manchester United
Towards the end of the 2013-14 season Klopp, who had already won two league titles as Borussia Dortmund manager, was approached by a whole host of Premier League clubs, including Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
But the weirdest approach of all was from Manchester United’s Ed Woodward, who talked to the German shortly before David Moyes was sacked. Woodward told Klopp that Old Trafford was “like an adult Disneyland” in that it was a “mythical place” where “dreams came true”.
Klopp apparently found this pitch unconvincing and “unsexy”, which isn’t surprising given how hard Moyes had found the job…
2) Wolfgang Frank is Klopp’s main tactical inspiration
The book has a long chapter on former Mainz manager Wolfgang Frank, who revolutionised German football while Klopp was a player at the club. Frank never found mainstream success but completely reshaped German football and sowed the seeds for gegenpressing.
He was the first person to introduce a back four without a sweeper to Germany and the concept of defending narrowly in certain areas of the pitch; apparently the nation couldn’t understand why Mainz left the right side of the pitch completely open while the opponent was attacking down the other side, for example.
His tactics were an “epiphany” for Klopp, who was impressed by how “everybody had to go where the ball was. The aim was to create numerical superiority to win the ball, then sprawl out, like a fist that opens.” Sound familiar?
Look what came in the post today… pic.twitter.com/mbEMHSbpNp
— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) November 3, 2017
3) Klopp’s tactical awareness made him seemingly destined to become a manager
Klopp was told by Frank to take extensive notes from training sessions and their conversations, primarily because he knew his player would one day become a manager and find them useful. The Liverpool boss was eventually promoted from player to manager due to his obvious grasp of the Mainz aesthetic (introduced by Frank some years earlier).
One of the best anecdotes in the book details how Eckhard Krautzun got the Mainz job before Klopp did.
Krautzen, who had not been on the shortlist and would go on to fail spectacularly at the club, wowed the chairman with his intricate knowledge of how to play the high-pressing Wolfgang system.
Three weeks after he was hired, Klopp told the chairman that Krautzun had called him a month before and asked him to explain the tactics – and that Klopp had spoken to him for three hours.
4) The Gegenpress is all about setting traps
A lot of people assume that gegenpressing means to hound every player and, when it is won back, start galloping towards goal. But it is more intricate than this.
At several points in the book Klopp’s plans to lay traps are made clear, with the idea being that one or two select players are deliberately left open in order to force the opposition to pass in a certain pattern. When they win the ball back, Klopp’s forwards are already in the open spaces that their trap created.
5) The book reveals Klopp’s role in Liverpool’s famous comeback win against Dortmund
Liverpool were 2-0 down at half-time in the Europa League quarter-final in 2016 and needed three goals to progress. The story of Klopp’s intervention is perhaps the best example in the book of his charisma and tactical acumen.
First, he showed the players some videos of what had gone wrong in their first-half performance, and then he gave a rousing speech that referenced their dramatic turnaround against AC Milan in Istanbul.
Having told the players to “create something that we could tell our grandchildren one day,” according to Divock Origi, Klopp’s aggression from the touchline in the second half made a huge difference as Liverpool ran out 4-3 victors.
Mats Hummels later admitted that Dortmund “started shitting ourselves” at the site of Klopp creating a positive atmosphere in the ground.
6) Dortmund burnt out after energetic demands
“We knew exactly what the coach wanted us to do, and it was actually fun to play that way, almost addictive. His classic phrase was: ‘Run like there’s no tomorrow,’” said Marco Reus.
Klopp’s heavy metal football is also described using the German word “geil” by Klopp himself, with the suggestion that “self-sacrificing toil could be a sensual, arousing experience.”
Can Liverpool ever embrace this? Dortmund’s eventual collapse is partly blamed on the players becoming rich and successful, meaning their star power stopped them wanting to play in the blue-collar way Klopp had championed.
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7) It takes a long time for the Klopp effect to work
One of the biggest things this book achieves is showing how much hard work it takes to build a successful team. It took years for Klopp’s methods to be successful at Dortmund, who just couldn’t win consistently in his first two years in charge despite regularly outplaying their opponents – which is precisely what has happened at Liverpool.
As first-team coach Peter Krawietz points out: “Once [the English press] have convinced themselves, for example, that a goalkeeper is shit, he remains shit for eternity.”
Perhaps we are simply too demanding and impatient in this country to appreciate that Liverpool are on the road to a title win in the next few years.
8) An explanation is offered for Liverpool’s poor set-piece defending
The main reason appears to be that England is just better at attacking set-pieces than Germany, and so Klopp and his colleagues don’t know how to defend them. There is a “high calibre of dead-ball routines” that goes “way down to the fourth division” in England, according to Krawietz.
It isn’t exactly a heartening thing to hear for Liverpool fans.
9) Liverpool deliberately became a slower possession team from the beginning of last season
“After getting used to one another in the first season, there was a much bigger focus on possession football for the second year,” Liverpool’s coach tells Honigstein. “The idea was to control the pace of the game with the ball.”
This sounds quite similar to Pep Guardiola’s obsession with second balls and the realisation of European coaches that English football is too frantic for their usual methods.
10) Klopp is left-leaning politically – and could be Germany president one day
German journalist Martin Quast says that “after Donald Trump, I’m more convinced than ever: if he wanted to run for German president, he would get elected. He would bring people together, lead the way, make people happy.”
Of his own political beliefs, Klopp is “on the left, of course. If there’s one thing I’ll never do in my life it’s voting for the right.”
By Alex Keble