Wednesday 19 June 2019

Roy Curtis: 'Thanks to Klopp, Liverpool fans go to bed bursting with anticipation at what tomorrow might bring'

Anfield is a floating palace of anticipation on football's high seas with the wind of history tickling its sails

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Mohamed Salah during a training session at the Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Mohamed Salah during a training session at the Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Roy Curtis

To cut-down the last die-hard agnostics, those who doubt Jurgen Klopp has delivered a year of brilliant fantasy, it is worth flicking through Liverpool’s recent back catalogue.

Take this journey, remember the oppressive pre-Klopp mood-music, the dirge of lost hope as the club flailed and thrashed and scuttled, a shipwreck of sunken faith.

And compare it to today’s lightness of being, Anfield a floating palace of anticipation on football's high seas with the wind of history tickling its sails.

The emotional revolution explains why Klopp is beloved, underpins the certainty that there is no dam yet designed that can hold back his deep reservoir of Teutonic hope.

So, let us rewind.

Maybe back to when an asthmatic, bewildered class of 2013 trailed in seventh in the Premier League, 28 points adrift of Alex Ferguson’s last Manchester United untouchables.

This season, Liverpool were 59 points better relative to United than just six seasons ago.  Think about that. For it is less a turnaround than a velvet revolution, an unstoppable, progressive insurrection toppling the old order.

If it is undeniably true that Klopp arrives in Madrid for an all-English Champions League final still trophy-less after 43 months on Merseyside, it also entirely misses the point.

Sometimes glory is measured in currencies even more priceless than precious metal.

Klopp has enabled Liverpool supporters strike the oil of lost identity; for a city and a club so entwined with its own mythology, this alone brings a euphoric gush of renewal.

Recently a Reds supporter of some renown told me he would happily sign up for ten more years of the former Dortmund coach even if came with the caveat of not a single trophy.

Why is The Kop so energised by Klopp, why do supporters feel a lovely warmth in their soul at the first mention of their bearded, beaming orchestrator of joy? 

Because he has embraced Liverpool’s history without permitting it to weigh him down.

Because of his emotional intelligence, the can-do personality, the way he has made the deepest connection with his audience, a bond apparently equipped to ride out any storm.

Because he reaches down into the well of his charisma and comes up with Shankly-like lines that inspire both the dressing-room and the terrace.

Like, when confronted by Lionel Messi and a three goal deficit to Barcelona, he mined the spine-tingling nugget that did so much to trigger the Miracle of Anfield.

"This is impossible," he told his players, "except you guys are you."

How could your heart not beat a little stronger after that, how could you not grow and grow, until you had become something resembling an unstoppable force of nature?

One that would score four times in 90 insane minutes, breaking the world’s best team, reducing the greatest player the planet has known to an insignificant dust mote.

Impossible. Except you guys are you.

Words matter. Personality matters. Intelligence matters. And, as any superior preacher recognises, an understanding of how to touch and move your congregation matters.

Liverpool have not won the league title in 29 years; they have won a single trophy – the League Cup in 2012, after a penalty shoot-out against Cardiff – in the current decade.

Liverpool fans chant as they march in downtown Madrid, Spain ahead of the Champions League final. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
Liverpool fans chant as they march in downtown Madrid, Spain ahead of the Champions League final. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

But there might not be a more contented, upbeat fan-base in world football.

Thanks to Klopp, Liverpool supporters go to bed each night bursting with anticipation of what tomorrow might bring.

Like the great doctor cut down in Memphis all those years ago, the 51-year-old is the custodian of a dream, along with the conviction and magnetic oratorical powers to persuade the masses it is one worth pursuing.

Here is the very essence of sport's ocean-swell power: To lift and inspire and bring the people together.

Klopp is a lamplighter, illuminating a pathway which not only promises treasure at the far side.  But where the journey itself delivers an intoxicating, gemstone gleam.

And, of course, there is method and substance to his milk and honey vision.

Liverpool’s 97 points might not have won that arresting hand to hand duel with Manchester City, but it was a stunning return, more than Ferguson’s richest harvest.

For the first time in 39 years, The Kop has enjoyed successive seasons without witnessing a single league loss at their coliseum.  The napalm of Klopp’s high-energy game has transformed Anfield into a killing field for invaders. 

Liverpool lost once in 38 league fixtures; they equalled a club record of 30 league wins, set in the era of 42-game season.  They forced City to touch the supernatural.

Even blessed with the most powerful, thoroughbred squad the English game has known, Pep Guardiola was required to take out the whip, flogging his team to win their last 14 league fixtures, just to edge a photo-finish.

And so, onwards, to Madrid where Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham, authors of their own Amsterdam astonishment, await.

Liverpool won both league meetings 2-1 and if there are a few stubborn agnostics elsewhere, there will be none at the red end of the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Their devotion to Klopp is too intense, the belief in the totem who has illuminated a heavenly light above Anfield uncontaminated by anything other than certainty.

Online Editors

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