Liverpool’s manager was Sky’s guest on Monday evening, appearing on a football show and impressing viewers. With the Reds scoring goals for fun early in the season, Jürgen Klopp’s stock is soaring in the UK.
Jürgen Klopp’s TV punditry credentials date all the way back to the Confederations Cup of 2005, when his appearances on public broadcaster ZDF helped cement his celebrity status in Germany. He only quit the role over fears that the work would overshadow his impending challenge coaching Borussia Dortmund.
Klopp’s prior experience was no secret even to British audiences and the local press heading into the show.
Despite the hype, most viewers were not disappointed. Klopp displayed his trademark straight-talking brand of tactical insights, mixed with a healthy dose of humility. Asked early on about his playing career, Klopp said that he was “really quick and a good header” of the ball, but added he could not have earned a place in one of his own teams.
“On the ground, that was not my biggest strength,” Klopp said. “One of my best things I did in my managing career was my first decision, when I became a manager I was a player the day before. And the first thing I said: ‘But then I don’t play anymore.’ That helped the team a lot!”
‘Oh no, no, no! What am I doing?’
Sky had done their homework, segueing straight into perhaps one of the biggest blunders of Klopp’s playing days, in a key second-division defeat for Mainz against Wolfsburg. Klopp sought to dribble the ball out of his own third of the pitch, clumsily conceding possession, leading to a goal seconds later.
“Oh come on, don’t start with this! Oh no, no, no! What am I doing?” Klopp chuckled. Co-analyst Jamie Carragher – a Liverpool defensive legend in his playing days with more than 700 appearances in red – teased that “you thought you were Beckenbauer.”
Carragher’s attentive, almost doting gaze towards Liverpool’s manager was the subject of some amusement online during the show.
Anfield machine starts churning
“Carra” has every reason to be infatuated. Liverpool are starting to click into gear under Klopp – leading the entire Premier League in goals scored, possession, tackles per game and sprints per game since the Stuttgarter took the reins.
“It’s better that we have an optimistic mood around. At this moment Liverpool feels good,” Klopp said, confiding that he felt he and the team had now found their preferred playing shape. “What I loved in the first half against Hull [a 5-1 win last Saturday] was we were really flexible and then when we lost the ball we were wild boys in winning it back.”
Asked about the highly attacking influence of his two full backs – Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner – the 49-year-old said that they pushed forward so much because “we don’t have wingers, really.” With the front four playing more narrow, the overlap became more important he said, concluding that there was one basic rule for his outfielders when in possession and on the attack: “The rule is: be an option in terms of getting a pass, or be protection.”
For Kloppo, all bets are off
On Tuesday, former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier said that the new-look Liverpool should now be counted among the potential title contenders.
“You only have to see with the number of goals they score, they have a new philosophy and I really like the coach,” Houllier said at the Soccerex football event in Manchester. “The best is yet to come. They are definitely good enough.”
Klopp was more wary on the topic of the title, though, noting the strength throughout the Premier League and saying that LFC still needed to progress before seriously challenging. He was even confronted with bookmakers’ odds in the UK putting Liverpool as second-favorites – albeit well adrift of Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten Manchester City.
“I don’t even understand the numbers. Where I’m from you keep your money,” Klopp said.