Tuesday 20 March 2018

Off the Ball: Klopp's love-in shows up Jose

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Joe Molloy

Adam Lallana lives in a house opposite Jurgen Klopp. They joke around. "He takes my post sometimes," laughed Lallana on BT Sport, "and sometimes I'll take his." On Friday, after a signature Liverpool display at Stamford Bridge, Klopp was darting around hugging his players.

Each responded enthusiastically. Lallana took a running jump into his manager's arms; not since Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze had we seen such emotion expressed through dance. "I'm a player that likes it when a manager praises you. A hug can mean a lot. It shows he appreciates your hard work," continued Lallana.

Most players, most humans indeed, are simple beings. We like praise.

Often post-match hugs reveal a lot about a manager and his players, communication being 55pc body language and all that. Need we mention Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy at Lansdowne Road in 2001 after the Holland game. In less extreme examples, we so often see a flicker of confusion on players' faces as their beaming manager approaches them, arms spread for an embrace. Frankly, they're not used to this level of warmth. As Kevin Kilbane surmised knowingly in studio this week, 'those awkward hugs'. Indeed.

But with Klopp and his players there is a genuine comfort level. Here is a manager who rules by love. Meanwhile, it's hard to know how Jose Mourinho is trying to rule. Once upon a time, in his last game as Inter boss, Mourinho and Marco Materazzi wept in an embrace outside the Bernabeu. They had just won the Champions League.

Now for two weeks running Mourinho has criticised his players and, more bizarrely, singled out 21-year-old Luke Shaw for a goal which had more to do with the failings of Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini. At Chelsea last season, his criticism of the players sounded alarm bells that the end was nigh. Mourinho is about two years ahead of schedule here. For all the pre-season 'Special One' hype at Old Trafford, it appears as if Klopp is the one to challenge Pep Guardiola.

Irish Independent

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