Monday 5 December 2016

Klopp the redeemer: German the ideal man to restore hope to Liverpool fans

German's record and charisma make him ideal man to restore hope to Liverpool fans

Published 16/10/2015 | 02:30

Jurgen Klopp’s arrival has sparked an outpouring of emotion among Liverpool supporters
Jurgen Klopp’s arrival has sparked an outpouring of emotion among Liverpool supporters

No-one should be surprised by the frenzy sparked by Liverpool's signing of Jurgen Klopp. The reaction is entirely justified in both historical and emotional terms.

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It is not an invention of hype, it is a surge of well-being, an expression of what might just prove be a thrilling renewal of something deep in the blood.

This is because the club's American ownership, having finally awakened from their torpor, have not so much acquired a new manager as hit a vein.

They have finally met their responsibilities as proprietors of something more than another sleeping sports franchise. They have set about re-inventing a way of life - and the way a large section of a great city likes to see itself.

They have responded to an aching need only briefly assuaged by Rafa Benitez's isolated Champions League glory a decade ago and the passing brilliance of Luis Suarez.

Take away those eruptions of old hope, and passion, and we have a profile of decline.

Certainly £300m worth of transfer spending did little to snap the pessimism, and for some the extent of the drift had reached crisis point long before the end of the last deflating season.

Indeed, as long ago as last April it seemed an unavoidable chore to don the black cap of a hanging judge with the declaration that the Anfield revolution simply wasn't happening, that it was not so much dying on the vine as perishing at the roots.

If the need for team-strengthening was self-evident, there was another, deeper priority.

It was for the club to regain a much more vibrant sense of who they once were and who they might yet become.

Enter, of course, Jurgen Klopp and his billing as the redeemer of Anfield when he takes his place on the White Hart Lane touchline at high noon tomorrow.

It is a role for which he has performed a thunderous, brilliant and specifically appropriate audition.

Heart

He understands that a coach who doesn't lay hold of the heart of his team, and the passion of its following, has failed to engage the most vital aspect of his job.

For Klopp this is simply a starting point, the engagement of a reality no less pressing than the need for superior manpower and sophisticated tactics.

For Klopp, a performance without passion is a day without sunlight and ever since he moved from the modest surrounds of his first football love, Mainz, he had put that understanding at the core of all his work - brilliant work indeed which brought two Bundesliga titles from under the shadow of Bayern Munich.

What the Liverpool following has yearned to see is something to rekindle that faith in their team's destiny first engendered by Bill Shankly when he arrived on Merseyside more than 60 years ago.

The arrival of Klopp - so much further down the road of understanding club football dynamics at the highest level than Shankly when he brought his messianic talents from such relatively low-profile training grounds as Workington and Grimsby and Huddersfield - has provoked remarkable tumult, because Liverpool had teetered almost to the point of no return.

Liverpool fans' surge of enthusiasm, their sense of regained horizons, is entirely reasonable. A man parched in the desert in surely entitled to a gulp or two.

Having played the vast following of Dortmund in their great fortress of the Ruhr so skilfully, so intensely, Klopp was hardly going to be reluctant in unfurling again such skills.

His first team talk certainly hit an expected, and no doubt required, tone when he said he was looking for bravery and a sense of fun - and what is any kind of team without such capacities?

You had only to see the interaction between Klopp and his players on both the good days and the bad ones to know that what he had built in Dortmund was an extraordinary bond.

When a young Mario Gotze, a World Cup winner in waiting, was inevitably, and sadly, drawn into the web of Bayern, Klopp was distraught but understanding of the way football, and life, works.

When one of his players did something exceptional, his joy was as tangible as the warmth of his embrace. This wasn't showy sentiment, plainly, but the force of a common cause - and it was significant, too, that when he believed his Japanese protégé Shinji Kagawa was not being properly used at Manchester United, he was moved to tears.

"Sometimes," he reflected, "you have to step back from such emotions but it is hard to see a player of great quality and character suffering frustration.

"The coach's job is to release such players to their full potential, and when you can see that happening you know you have done your work properly."

Emotion

His new Anfield charges are no doubt already bracing themselves for a professional life of much greater intensity and no doubt this reality will be another potent force of renewed emotion on the terraces.

It may take Klopp some time to impose a new pattern, a hard understanding of his requirements, but in the meantime there is surely no cause to sneer at the warmth of his reception.

Klopp's credentials were examined, and approved, somewhere no less passionate or demanding than the old citadel of the Kop. So why wouldn't the Liverpool fans perform the football equivalent of spreading palms at his feet?

Heaven knows, they have waited long enough for a glimpse of one of the game's proven redeemers and why wouldn't they be so eager to claim him as their own?

Irish Independent

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