John Giles: Jurgen Klopp understands English but he doesn't understand England
Published 16/12/2015 | 20:44
I’m sure Jurgen Klopp had something on his mind when he dragged very reluctant Liverpool players into the middle of the pitch at Anfield to celebrate a draw against West Brom.
I’m sure he even thought it was a good idea but it is never a good idea to act the clown.
The reaction to Liverpool’s peculiar victory lap has been universally scornful and let’s be honest, how could it be anything else?
I think Klopp understands English well enough but this was a sign that he doesn’t understand England or Liverpool as completely as everyone thought.
However, his command of the language will have left him in no doubt that he made a mistake and I hope that he realises that with one bad move, he put at risk all the good work he had done previously.
All the hard won respect and trust he gained from his players was put on the line in that one mortifying moment.
I think I know what he was trying to do but I’m struggling to understand how a smart man like Klopp could think that a display like that would help his situation.
I know he put a lot of effort into reconnecting Liverpool fans with their team and it was fair enough for him to make a point about people leaving games early.
I also know that he identified that there was a problem of confidence when Liverpool were playing at home and that many points were dropped because of this frailty during Brendan Rodgers’ time - important points.
So I can understand why he would be so pleased to see the same players dig out a draw in messy circumstances against West Brom and about as deep into injury-time as you can get.
But he went too far. His delight spilled over and whether it was a big moment or not for him and his team, that is the very time to show restraint.
The players were embarrassed, you could see it written on their faces and when they went away that night, the only thing they were thinking was “what was all that about?” instead of “what a good point”.
It won’t have taken them long to figure out that it was all about optics and if there’s one thing players hate, it’s a grandstanding manager who has an eye on the media.
As I said above, I know what he is trying to do. His style is to put an arm around the whole club and try to bring everyone with him but that was working fine until he made a fool of himself and the players.
He should know that the best way to make the Kop happy is to win football matches.
The best way to cure faint-hearts is to build confidence and parading them in front of a half-empty stadium after they’ve dropped two home points won’t do that.
Working on the training ground the next day will help build morale. Pulling apart the game with the players and addressing the reasons why they lost two goals will gain their respect and trust. Players want to see a manager who knows his stuff.
They will always respond to that before they will respond to a gimmick. Treating the players like a window display was just that – a circus act.
Morale is about all sorts of things.
Mostly, it’s about winning but it’s also about the characters in the squad, the way the staff build relationships and of course, it’s about trust and respect.
Klopp need only look at Stamford Bridge to see what happens when a manager like José Mourinho, not averse to showing off himself at inappropriate moments, cashes in all his chips and tries every device he can find, including blaming the players, to deflect the blame for the terrible situation he finds himself in.
For the first time in his career, maybe his life, Mourinho is losing and he doesn’t know what to do it about it.
Chelsea’s group morale is shattered and that is his fault, nobody else.
It isn’t his fault that the conditions he sought and received before he agreed to come back to Chelsea have shifted, I concede that.
But it is his fault that he publicly humiliated John Terry, Nemanja Matic and Eden Hazard.
It is his fault that he harangues referees constantly, claims conspiracies against his team and talks trash about other managers.
His biggest mistake appears to have been his confrontation with team doctor Eva Carneiro, who was clearly a popular member of staff.
That episode was about more than football and left an imprint on the players through their wives.
He didn’t have to clash with a medic in the way he did and he doesn’t have to engage in any of the other ill-tempered and ill-considered behaviour.
It’s a choice he makes and it seems as if he cant help himself.