Alex Perl | June 20th, 2019
Jürgen Klopp had finally put to bed the ghosts of his failure. Well, failure if you can call it that, for on the night of June 1st, 2019, Klopp was now holding the trophy that had eluded him for years, The UEFA Champions League title trophy. In his third UEFA champions final match, he had finally conquered the demons of his past and could now proclaim himself, as well as Liverpool F.C., were now champions.
When you usually think of managers in soccer, you don’t envision fist bumps, hugs, and exciting runs down the touchline after a goal. What you usually see are stoic, suit dressed and stone-like figures, whose only show of emotion is usually anger or slight dismay. The latter is not Klopp, but the former indeed is. Klopp is not like any manager in the world of soccer, or almost in sports in general. His child-like mannerisms and excitement make you think he is more animated than his younger players, but the numbers do not lie, and when you look at the success Klopp has had over his managerial career, maybe he is on to something.
To understand the success of Jurgen Klopp, this goes well beyond his recent success in turning around Liverpool F.C. It dates back to his homeland of Germany. Klopp enjoyed a rather solid if not spectacular career as a player spent mainly with Mainz 05. With his retirement in 2001, he immediately took over the side’s managerial position at Mainz. With his almost revolutionary tactics and energy, he led Mainz in his third year in charge to it’s first ever promotion to the Bundesliga (Top division in Germany) With Mainz enjoying the success it had never dreamed of, Klopp was now hot property in his home country. With interest from top dogs Bayern Munich. he chose Borussia Dortmund instead, not a dominant team, but a team that had plenty of success over the years, despite falling on hard times prior to his arrival.
With Borussia Dortmund, this is where the star of Klopp would take notice on a world stage. Once again the 3rd time was the charm. His third season in charge Dortmund had dethroned Munich as Bundesliga champions. The youngest side to ever win the league. The next season Klopp would win the league again, and now it was not just Germany taking notice, but the world. His young side’s energy reflected in his own, he was pure entertainment, as he was usually seen celebrating with his team or giving very energetic and uncanny interviews post game. By the 2012-2013 season, Dortmund was not doing as well in league play, but Klopp had stated their focus was now on European play. After defeating powerhouse Real Madrid to set up an all-German final with Bayern Munich, his star was never shining brighter. Despite Munich, winning in late and spectacular fashion. Klopp had shown with a young team and comprised of inexpensive stars, you can enjoy success. By 2015, Klopp had done all he could with the lower budgets and emphasis of youth with Dortmund, he had decided to resign.
By October of that year, Klopp had shocked the world by accepting the Managerial position at Liverpool F.C. Klopp and his Gegenpressing tactics were now headed to England. Liverpool had enjoyed marginal success over the years but was known to usually lose their star players to bigger clubs. During his first press conference, he called himself “The Normal One”, a play on Manager Jose Mourinho’s self-proclaimed title of the “Special One.” He was already setting himself as a new character in a league that had no shortage of this. The third year of Klopp had once again provided magic, Liverpool had advanced to their first UEFA Champions League final since 2007. Once again though Klopp had failed, and Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the final. The 2018-2019 season would be quite different for Klopp and Liverpool, they were now in a dog fight for first place in the league, as well as battling to win the UEFA Champions League. Despite narrowly losing out on the EPL title, Klopp had finally buried his winless UEFA Finals record, beating Tottenham Hotspur F.C. 2-0 in the final.
Klopp and Liverpool now open the 2019-2020 season as not only domestic favorites, but possibly favorites to win the Champions League trophy again. With a stacked team from top to bottom who buy into his energy and system, Klopp is in the driver seat for what should be a remarkable and possibly historical season. Klopp once stated, “The challenge is to stay cool enough to handle the pressure in the moment so that you can succeed in the future.” If anyone knows anything about being cool it’s Klopp.
Questions and comments?
Follow Alex Perl on Twitter @APbass999
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images