Sunday 22 April 2018

Ronnie Whelan: Klopp must learn to say ‘no’ to media or he will set himself up for fall

Read Ronnie Whelan every Monday on in The Herald

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Herald Sport

I’ve a word of warning for Jurgen Klopp. He’s been a breath of fresh air, open, accessible and friendly but he must resists at all costs the temptation to become a media darling.

They love him now but that will change and he is setting himself up for a fall by being so available and so honest.

It was the moment when I saw him in the tea room at Exeter being interviewed by the BBC before the FA Cup tie on Friday that I realised that Klopp is playing with fire and he may even be totally oblivious to the danger.

His personality is so open that he finds it very hard to say no when someone asks him for his time. But he should start saying ‘no thanks’ more often than he is.

In my day, a good rule of thumb was always to avoid unnecessary exposure to journalists and television cameras. Anyone who was ‘busy’ with the media was frowned open and put simply, not trusted.

Kenny Dalglish was famous for his impenetrable answers and sitting on the other side of the fence now I can appreciate the difficulties journalists have to cope with but at the time, I thought it was hilarious and just what I wanted from the Gaffer.

He saw the media as the enemy and operated on that basis throughout his career.

Klopp speaks openly about everything and anything and while this is great for those who write for a living, I’m not sure it will ultimately be good for him or for Liverpool Football Club.

Brendan Rodgers said all the right things, tapped into the heartbeat of the Kop and was complimented for his approach. He clearly had huge respect and affection for the club and everyone responded to that.

Fast forward to the end of last season when Rodgers would not shut up. Each press conference was more embarrassing than the last and in the end, he talked himself out of a job.

I thought he deserved a bit more time but he had created an image of himself by talking too much which meant that popular opinion saw him as a bit of a spoofer so imagine what the players thought?

Read more here:

Players do not like managers who talk to the press about them.

Klopp has arrived  wide-eyed and good-natured but to survive in the Premier League he needs to pull back and be more sparing in what he is prepared to do for the media - even if it is the BBC or Sky who are asking for his time.

He has other problems to deal with which do not relate to what happens on a football pitch. He has attracted the attention of the schoolboy bullies among the senior home-grown management clique and he can do without that.

Alex Ferguson used to be the leader of the pack with his trusty lieutenant Sam Allardyce and they gave Rafa Benitez a proper-going over in the season before he left Anfield.

Allardyce was up to his old tricks again in the last few weeks with Klopp.

His ‘soft German’ insult was disgraceful as indeed was his patronising suggestion that Klopp had underestimated the pace of the Premier League and was paying the price in hamstring injuries.

This is Sam Allardyce, remember, who is managing a club which will be playing Championship football next season, lecturing another manager who has a CV which makes the Sunderland boss look like a novice.

Klopp should have told him to mind his own business. The bottom line for him is that he needs players full of energy and commitment to play his high tempo game and they need to be fit to do that.

My own view is that players like Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana have never been asked to run as much as Klopp wants them too and perhaps he saw a deficit in them when he first took a training session.

He has an even bigger deficit to cope with at the moment because of the huge list of injuries and from what he has been saying, he is searching for players in this window.

Liverpool got Luis Suarez in a January window so it is possible to find a gem and Klopp is desperate for bodies as the team he put out in the 2-2 draw with Exeter showed.

Klopp badly needs a striker and centre-backs but I would prefer to see him muddle through this difficult time rather than throw money at a player simply because he’s available and might do a job.

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