Thursday 22 March 2018

Watch: Jurgen Klopp delivers punditry masterclass on Monday Night Football

Jurgen Klopp with Jamie Carragher on MNF
Jurgen Klopp with Jamie Carragher on MNF

Jim White

It took 45 minutes on Sky’s Monday Night Football before the presenter Dave Jones finally got round to mentioning the match that was about to be screened.

But then – at the risk of irritating supporters of those two fine clubs – many of those tuning in to watch would have happily listened to the studio discussion for another 90 minutes rather than watch live coverage of Burnley against Watford.

"Most of the goals we gave away in the early stage of the season when I came here, we had to change a few things, change a few formations and we always played against ‘specialists’ in set-pieces.

"When you play against West Brom, Crystal Palace, West Ham last year. They are unbelievably strong at this and we had to change it so it’s not about a formation, it’s more about how we react in the moment."

Jurgen Klopp was the guest on the programme, and the Liverpool manager provided riveting viewing. Before he took over at Dortmund and immediately retired from the small screen Klopp was reckoned the best pundit on German television.

In the 2006 World Cup he was Gary Neville when Gary Neville was still a footballing shop steward. And it was easy to see why when he made his debut on Sky’s Monday Night Football. Engaging, interesting, entertaining, this was a masterclass in the form.

Inevitably, as his man on the touchscreen was Jamie Carragher, the conversation was almost entirely Liverpool-centric. But it was no less fascinating for that. Klopp was open and revealing about the importance of pressing (“no playmaker can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation”) about his enthusiastic touchline celebration of a snappy Liverpool tackle (“It is a small goal if you want, but I love situations like this because if you are in this mood, yeah, it will work”) and about his own shortcomings as a player (“I was very average, my best decision as a manager was my first: I retired as a player.”)

Plus he demonstrated he was not embarrassed about laughing, even if it was at himself.

“It was a very hot day,” he said, when Carragher showed footage of Klopp the player tamely giving up possession, an error that led to an opposition goal.

And when Jones asked him what the problem is with Liverpool defending corners, he pointed out an obvious shortcoming.

“We are not the tallest team in the league,” he said.

“How do you improve that?” asked Jones.

“Make them taller,” came back Klopp, demonstrating that he is as sharp in his second language as he is in his native German.

But if this was a brilliantly persuasive audition for future employment on the channel, Klopp would be advised to do some research into what bolsters Sky’s finances if he is to nail a position as Graeme Souness’s successor.

“I don’t really understand the numbers, what does 13/8 mean?” he said when shown the bookmakers’ odds which insist Liverpool are now second favourites to win the Premier League title. “Betting? I know where I come from you keep your money.”

Publicly admitting to not being a betting man on a channel where you are never more than 10 minutes away from Ray Winstone growlingly insisting that he always gambles responsibly might well represent career suicide.

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