Revealed: The secrets behind Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool
Assistant coach Peter Krawietz explains how half-time videos, hard work and laughter are integral to the Anfield revolution
Liverpool’s famed bootroom has now become the Anfield beatroom.
“We are like a music band, with their own instrument,” says Jurgen Klopp’s assistant coach Peter Krawietz. “Jurgen is the band leader, and others are behind him playing the bass guitar or drum. I’m not sure which instrument is mine!”
Klopp may be the charismatic front man, but from the moment he accepted the call from Fenway Sports Group he came as part of a trio. Long-term aides Krawietz and Bosnian Zeljko Buvac have been part of the ensemble since his first management job in Mainz.
It has been too long since the Anfield coaching unit followed the template of Bill Shankly, his celebrated think-tank of Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan mulling over opponents with a neat whisky.
Brendan Rodgers absorbed all coaching responsibilities for three years and discarded his backroom staff when the pressure took its toll. For Kenny Dalglish’s second spell the appointments of Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen were taken independently. Not since Rafa Benitez arrived with Paco Ayesteran and Paco Herrera – a relationship which disintegrated in their third season on Merseyside – has Liverpool’s management set-up been so reassuringly tight and harmonising.
When the idea of Klopp becoming English football’s archetypal, dictatorial boss is put to Krawietz there is a laugh.
“Yes, yes. Say this. Put in Jurgen is a dictator!” he says, shaking his head before adding a clarifying ‘no, no, no’.
“It is very collaborative how we work. We’ve been this way since we started together. Many years ago a journalist in Germany said I was ‘the eye’ and Zeljko was ‘the brain’ and people repeat it. We could only laugh at this, see it as an invention and say ‘so what is Jurgen?’
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“We are all part of the team here but it is different in Germany to England. Here, as a manager, there are so many more tasks around the club so me and Zeljko try to help as much as we can.”
Where English dressing rooms once hosted flying tea cups and hairdryers, nowadays, half-time team talks are more likely to consist of video presentations, players shown clips of where they’ve gone wrong – techniques imported to Anfield directly from Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion.
“In Mainz and Dortmund video analysis was my main task,” says Krawietz. “Here it is different because we already have a department doing all this stuff and I try to prepare – filter all the information we need and prepare meetings for the team.
“Now we have the computer in the dressing room on a match day, a projector and then the screen.
“I don’t know if we were the first to do it when we started at Mainz but we like to immediately show the players what we mean. A manager can explain a situation, ask the player about it and then we can show him. You’ve got it there to see it. It makes it easy for players to understand.
“Hopefully it should mean you correct the faults every time. I’m making the list during the game seeing what is important for us, working out if the problem is one scene or a trend – maybe a defensive problem or spaces we are not using, or the opponent has changed their set-up.
“We use this, especially at the moment, to improve the development. It is very important to be able to react at half-time and show what we can do better. We also have the cameras outside on the training pitch to use if necessary.”
At Anfield, where the dressing room is notoriously small, this brings logistical problems. Klopp and his coaching staff are liaising with the architects of Liverpool’s new Main Stand to ensure the specifications are met when the players are relocated next season.
“We are really looking forward to the new stadium and a bigger dressing room. Of course we are taking that into consideration – the bigger space will be more comfortable for everyone,” said Krawietz. “It’s fair to say we couldn’t use the projectors it at Exeter last week!”
The relationship between Klopp and his most trusted advisors began at Mainz under the guidance of their former manager Wolfgang Frank, the coach Krawietz says had the most profound impact on Liverpool’s manager.
“Wolfgang Frank had an idea of football which was something like a revolution in Germany based on the Arrigo Sacchi style of pressing and defending,” says Krawietz.
“It was new in Germany to play in a back four and play this way. Mainz was the first to do it and the success was unbelievable. Frank was a very important person for all of us when he came to Mainz.
“Mainz was always in the second Bundelsiga and near the bottom. Every year a new manager would come in, we would be at the bottom, and then the manager would be out. Wolfgang Frank came in and changed the thinking of the club. Many of the players he worked with are managers today. He was the first to take us into the top league.
“I began as a student in the University of Mainz and he worked with my professor. I became part of the scouting team. That’s how I met Jurgen.
“When I started my work there was a situation where I presented my analysis, telling him what he should have done.
"‘What? Me?’ he said to me. It was very funny. It was my task to tell him what he’d done wrong. Then we had a ‘discussion’ – if I can put it like that - as he asked me why I suggested this. It was the first time we spoke about football I can remember. It was the start.
“I always saw the possibility of him becoming a manager. He was an important player for his team but not the best player, but he had the attitude, leadership skills and understanding of his game to know what he could and could not do. He was always thinking for the team. He was very interested in the tactics and it was clear he was an outstanding person.”
After their success at Mainz and Dortmund, Klopp was determined to reunite his coaching set-up.
“He called me and said there was the possibility of Liverpool and what did I think? He said he thought we should go and I was invited,” says Krawietz.
“I was enjoying the sabbatical so it was a surprising moment but I felt his conviction that Liverpool is the right place to go. I thought for two hours and then said ‘okay’.
“I see similarities between Dortmund and Liverpool. When we came to Dortmund there were more difficulties because there were some financial problems and the club was in a situation where we had to change a few things. But there was a big potential to improve. It is the same here. We see how we can develop and build on a good base for the future. We’re at a big club with huge support and the chance for development but it must be in small steps.
“We can’t just push the button and say ‘here we are’ and we know it will need hard work, but we’re ready for it.
“I don’t know why people should believe in us other than it is possible because this is a great club with brilliant colleagues and there is the potential here. We know what we can improve and how we can improve, so our ideas are clear of what we want to do and we have confidence our way is the right way.
The public perception of Klopp in England is one of an entertainer, both in terms of how he wants his side to play and also how he projects himself in front of the camera.
Those who know him best say there is no misrepresentation.
“I don’t watch him on the television, but this is how Jurgen is. We are all hard-working men who are completely serious on the pitch and in our work, but we are also people who like to laugh. We think football is to be enjoyed,” says Krawietz.
“I don’t know why people should believe in us other than it is possible to be successful because this is a great club with brilliant colleagues and there is the potential here. We know what we can improve and how we can improve, so our ideas are clear of what we want to do and we have confidence our way is the right way.”