Jurgen Klopp takes over as Liverpool manager
Klopp replaces Brendan Rodgers, who was sacked Monday
His first game is at Tottenham Hotspur on October 17
He has admitted to watching adult films, prefers “heavy metal” football and his teams sometimes practice in public parks. He has – forget the fancy car – walked home from games and possesses more facial expressions than there are months of the year.
Every Christmas, he ordered his players to serve beer to fans.
Liverpool, meet your new manager.
Jurgen Klopp certainly isn’t typical but his eccentricity didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most sought after and popular coaches in all of world football.
Klopp signed a three-year contract on Thursday, joining the famous but fading Reds after they sacked the perfectly nice although less charismatic Brendan Rodgers.
And although the 48-year-old German has a well-earned reputation for the unconventional, he marked his first press conference in England Friday by declaring he was “the normal one” – a witty alteration to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s description of himself as the “special one” when he first pitched up in England 11 years ago.
That modest understatement had a short shelf-life, however.
Klopp went on to describe the expectations that surround Liverpool as “cool” and predict that he can lead the team to the English championship for the first time in a quarter of a century.
“We can wait for it but I don’t want to say we can wait 20 years. If we sit here in four years I think we’ll have won one title – I’m pretty sure,” he said.
Klopp once joked he couldn’t understood the Liverpudlian accent but in football language is less important than victories.
If the 48-year-old can transform Liverpool’s fortunes, though, German might just become the second most popular dialect on the Anfield terraces.
“You have to change from doubters to believers,” he said. “We have to start anew and see what happens this year.
“This is a great club with big potential, fast players, strong players, good defenders. Everything is there (for success).”
Klopp transformed Borussia Dortmund from sleeping giant to double Bundesliga champion, a true rival to behemoth Bayern Munich and a force to be reckoned with across Europe.
Indeed Dortmund – whose fans are every bit as passionate as Liverpool’s – came close to being crowned European champions in 2013, narrowly losing 2-1 to Bayern in the 2013 Champions League final.
“We have a bow and arrow and if we aim well, we can hit the target,” Klopp once said of Dortmund’s heated rivalry with Bayern, according to the Daily Mail. “The problem is that Bayern has a bazooka. The probability that they will hit the target is clearly higher. But then Robin Hood was apparently quite successful.”
Liverpool, of course, would take an instant league title to end 25 years of torment but finishing in a Champions League position this season would instantly endear Klopp to the Kop faithful.
On paper it appears doable. Liverpool only sits three points behind fourth, with not many, either, expecting Crystal Palace to retain its lofty position in the standings.
At the same time, however, even if defending champion Chelsea is slumping badly, the Blues trail Liverpool by four points and logic dictates that at some stage the west Londoners will wake up.
Klopp’s penchant for developing young players and ensuring teams are competitive while losing top stars will give Liverpool backers hope.
Yet whereas Bayern is the lone financial powerhouse in Germany, Liverpool must contend with Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League.
Further, in the short term, how will Klopp fare with a Rodgers-shaped squad that has largely flopped?
In the wake of Rodgers’ departure, Jamie Carragher, who played with distinction for Liverpool for 17 years, criticized Liverpool’s hierarchy including U.S. owner Fenway Sports Group.
“At this moment their track record in making decisions for Liverpool Football Club over the past two or three years has not been good enough,” Carragher said in his role as a pundit for British broadcaster Sky, a role Klopp is also familiar with. “It’s miles off.”
So there’s another potential issue for Klopp.
Klopp’s wife, Ulla, has penned children’s books. A new chapter in Liverpool’s history is being written, with Klopp the charismatic man in charge.