Until Gérard Houllier’s arrival at Anfield in 1998, Liverpool FC had never had a manager born outside of the British Isles. In the intervening 17 years, the well-respected Frenchman and his Spanish successor Rafa Benítez both delivered unexpected European success to Liverpool, as well as coming tantalisingly close to winning the Premier League for the first time. Reds fans worldwide will be hoping that under Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool’s first ever German manager, the club can finally go one better.
Like many top-class managers, as a player Jürgen Klopp was solid, if unspectacular, spending his entire career at FSV Mainz before taking up the reins there for his first steps into management upon retirement in 2001. Going on to become their longest-serving manager, Klopp’s reign was notable for the club being promoted out of the Bundesliga 2 into the top flight for the first time in their history. During their three-year excursion as a Bundesliga team, they also played a preseason friendly with Klopp’s future employers Liverpool in August 2006, where they demolished Rafa's charges 5-0! At the end of that season, however, Die Nullfünfer were relegated in 16th place. Klopp declared his intention to stay on, but resigned at the end of the following season as Mainz finished 4th, just outside the promotion places.
Klopp was not to be out of work for long, however: In May 2008, he was hired by Borussia Dortmund, who had finished in an unglamourous 13th place in the 2007-08 season. Klopp’s appointment immediately paid dividends, winning the DFL Supercup and raising the squad from thirteenth to sixth. The next season, their final position increased again, as Dortmund finished fifth. It was in the 2010-11 season, though, that Klopp’s Dortmund really made an impact and made a European household name of their charismatic manager. BVB won their first league title in nine years, being crowned champions with two games to spare and by an eventual margin of seven points. It was not enough for Klopp, and the next season Dortmund did it again, this time with a German-record-breaking tally of 81 points, and stringing together an incredible 28-match unbeaten run. The team also beat Bayern Munich 5-2 in the DFB Pokal to earn the first domestic double in their history. More success was to come in the 2012-13 season, as Borussia escaped a Champions League ‘Group Of Death’ to battle all the way to the final at Wembley Stadium, where a last-minute Arjen Robben goal saw Bayern Munich take the honours at their expense. Yet the bearded one remained upbeat, looking on the bright side and saying: “The only thing I can say is that it was great. London is the town of the Olympic Games. The weather was good, everything is OK. Only the result is shit.”
Like many of the great Liverpool managers before him, Klopp possesses a verbal dexterity and wit that is rare in English football. Comparing Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side to “a silent orchestra”, Klopp has stated he prefers his teams to play “heavy metal”, in a way apparently known in Germany as “English – rainy day, heavy pitch, 5-5, everybody is dirty in the face and goes home and cannot play for weeks after.” He memorably described Armenian international and one-time Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan as fitting Borussia Dortmund “like an arse on a bucket” – Brian Clough, eat your heart out...
Reaching the Champions League final proved to be the zenith for Klopp in Germany – an injury-ravaged 2013/14 season saw them exit the Champions League at the quarter-finals and fall to second in the league. Perhaps more worryingly for Liverpool fans – who are no strangers to false dawns and anticlimax – Dortmund’s form dipped alarmingly in Klopp’s last season in charge, often finding themselves occupying the relegation places and ultimately finishing seventh; the same position that Liverpool ended up in in Benítez’s last season in charge. There can be no doubt, however, that with two league titles and four domestic trophies won, Klopp’s spell was a success.
Only time will tell which team Klopp will coax out of Liverpool’s squad – the relegation-threatened disappointments, or the title-winning European marauders of a few seasons before. Whether it is Klopp’s favoured heavy metal that rings around Anfield, or yet more discordant jarring notes, remains to be seen. But as the man who said that football should be “very emotional, very fast, very strong, not boring... You cannot win without tactics, but the emotion makes the difference. Life in our game, that’s important.”
Klopp's message to Liverpool fans was simple enough in his first interview as boss: "We have to change from doubter to believer... now." The smart money is that Klopp and Liverpool will get on very well indeed.
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“With Klopp, he was a football madman: pressure and counter-attack. Instead, Tuchel (Dortmund’s coach) has changed our lives. Now we command the game and I have more freedom to attack. Thanks to him I now make myself more useful.”
Henrikh Mkhitaryan on his former Dortmund boss in Gazzetta dello Sport in March 2016
"He always stood up for his team and he’s a bit like a father for the players. Also, for the Liverpool fans, when they see they’ve got a coach who gives his all they’ll back him. Klopp is a very good coach. One day he could be having a laugh with you and, the next day, if you got it wrong in training, he’d come and have a go at you. He knows when to be your friend and he also knows how to be the boss — and that’s one of his strengths."
Robert Lewandowski in Mail on Sunday on 31 January 2016
"I have always said that the moment I feel I am no longer the perfect coach for this extraordinary club, I would say so. In the past days and weeks, I was not sure whether I was not the perfect coach anymore, but I couldn't say that I was either, so I saw it as my duty to inform [sporting director] Michael [Zorc] and 'Aki' [Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke]. I have nothing up my sleeve, but I also do not intend to take a sabbatical."
Klopp on the end of his Dortmund career
'There are moments when the grand spectacle of it all convinces you to put aside any regrets. Even if you concede at the last minute or five minutes into stoppage time. That was an extraordinary show. Just 10 minutes earlier, I saw Klopp looking at me with the game going on. I asked: "Why are you smiling?" He replied: "Aren't you having fun?" 'I said: "so much" and he added: "me too." He was losing at the time.
Daniel Sturridge scored a superb late equaliser as the game finished 1-1 in their league clash. 'Even after the equaliser, remembering that moment, we hugged like two old friends. I'm sure he would've done the same even if Liverpool hadn't equalised. 'The Premier League has this joy of football.'
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri in Corriere dello Sport in September 2018
|Marko Grujic||Red Star Belgrade||£5,100,000||6 January 2016|
|Steven Caulker||QPR||On Loan||12 January 2016|
|Kamil Grabara||Ruch Chorzow||£250,000||15 January 2016|
|Sadio Mané||Southampton||£30,000,000||28 June 2016|
|Loris Karius||Mainz 05||£4,700,000||1 July 2016|
|Joël Matip||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2016|
|Ragnar Klavan||Augsburg||£4,200,000||20 July 2016|
|Alex Manninger||Free Transfer||Free||22 July 2016|
|Georginio Wijnaldum||Newcastle United||£25,000,000 *||22 July 2016|
|Mohamed Salah||Roma||£43,900,000 *||22 June 2017|
|Dominic Solanke||Chelsea||£4,000,000 *||1 July 2017|
|Andrew Robertson||Hull City||£10,000,000 *||21 July 2017|
|Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain||Arsenal||£35,000,000||31 August 2017|
|Virgil Van Dijk||Southampton||£75,000,000||1 January 2018|
|Naby Keita||Red Bull Leipzig||£52,750,000||1 July 2018|
|Fabinho Tavarez||AS Monaco||£43,700,000 *||1 July 2018|
|Xherdan Shaqiri||Stoke City||£13,750,000||13 July 2018|
|Alisson Becker||Roma||£65,000,000 *||19 July 2018|
|Jose Enrique||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2016|
|Kolo Touré||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2016|
|Jordan Rossiter||Free Transfer||Free *||1 July 2016|
|João Carlos Teixeira||Free Transfer||Free *||1 July 2016|
|Jerome Sinclair||Free Transfer||Free *||1 July 2016|
|Samed Yesil||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2016|
|Sergi Canos||Norwich City||£4,500,000 *||13 July 2016|
|Martin Skrtel||Fenerbahce||£5,500,000||14 July 2016|
|Jordon Ibe||Bournemouth||£15,000,000||14 July 2016|
|Joe Allen||Stoke City||£13,000,000 *||25 July 2016|
|Brad Smith||Bournemouth||£6,000,000 *||27 July 2016|
|Christian Benteke||Crystal Palace||£32,000,000 *||20 August 2016|
|Luis Alberto||Lazio||£6,000,000 *||31 August 2016|
|Mario Balotelli||Nice||Free||31 August 2016|
|Tiago Ilori||Reading||£3,750,000||18 January 2017|
|Jack Dunn||Free Transfer||Free *||1 July 2017|
|Alex Manninger||Free Transfer||Free||1 July 2017|
|Andre Wisdom||Derby||£4,500,000 *||3 July 2017|
|Lucas Leiva||Lazio||£5,000,000||18 July 2017|
|Ryan Fulton||Hamilton Academical||Free||18 July 2017|
|Kevin Stewart||Hull City||£8,000,000 *||21 July 2017|
|Mamadou Sakho||Crystal Palace||£26,000,000||31 August 2017|
|Philippe Coutinho||Barcelona||£142,000,000 *||8 January 2018|
|Cameron Brannagan||Oxford United||£200,000||11 January 2018|
|Emre Can||Juventus||Free||1 July 2018|
|Danny Ward||Leicester City||£12,500,000 *||20 July 2018|
|Danny Ings||Southampton||£20,000,000 *||9 August 2018|
|Ragnar Klavan||Cagliari||£2,000,000||17 August 2018|
|Dominic Solanke||Bournemouth||£19,000,000 *||4 January 2019|
|Lazar Markovic||Fulham||Free||31 January 2019|