Can Klopp breath life back into the Liver bird?

Liverpool FC are a club with great history who have been mired in mediocrity for years. Is Germany's favourite coach the man to come to their rescue?

Can Klopp breath life back into the Liver bird?
Jürgen Klopp. Photo: DPA

When Jürgen Klopp left Borrussia Dortmund at the end of last season, the German media was rife with speculation he would wait a season and take the Bundesliga's top job as Bayern Munich manager.

The Stuttgarter had established himself as a legend during seven trophy-laden seasons at BVB, and with Munich's Spanish coach Pep Guardiola still not fully accepted in Bavaria, the marriage between Germany's top coach and top club seemed to make perfect sense.

But this simple calculation stands in contrast to Klopp's thinking, which is stamped with loyalty to club and fans.

Taking a job at BVB's arch rivals, the corporate giants of Munich with their spotless, bubble wrap stadium, somehow wouldn't feel right for the earthy, unpolished Schwabe (Swabian).

But going to one of the most storied clubs in world football, one with a famously passionate fan base – but one which hasn't won a domestic title in over two decades – could be just what Klopp is looking for.

It certainly wouldn't feel to dissimilar to the situation he found himself in when he joined Borrussia Dortmund in 2008.

One Klopp player

Klopp playing for Mainz against FC St. Pauli in 1997. Photo: DPA

Klopp spent his entire professional playing career at FSV Mainz 05, a small club from the outskirts of Frankfurt.

In 12 playing years he became one of the club's all-time top scorers (despite playing half his career in defence) and made more appearances in the second Bundesliga than any other player in Mainz's history.

By 2001, Klopp's last season as a player, Mainz were struggling against relegation into the third tier of German football and – having gone through five managers in the span of a year – were in disarray.

So the hierarchy turned to their longest serving player, despite the fact that he lacked the necessary qualifications.

The 6 ft 4 inch hulk hung up his boots and took his place in the dug-out. The transformation was immediate, with the club winning six of their last seven matches to keep their place in the league.

For the next three seasons the revival continued. Mainz knocked on the door of promotion every year, losing out on goal difference in 2003.

The next year they made it to the top division for the first time in the club's history, and then found a route into Europe through the fair play award – another first for the club.

But relegation two years later and failure to bounce straight back up into the top league led to Klopp stepping down in 2008.

The Yellow Wall

Klopp and players celebrate winning the Bundesliga in 2012. Photo: DPA

Klopp was only out of work for a matter of days, as the once-great Borussia Dortmund soon came calling.

The club from western Germany's industrial heartland had been champions of Europe in 1997, but through financial mis-management had fallen into mid-table obscurity years ago.

Again the Klopp effect was almost instantaneous.

In his first season he took the Rhinelanders to 6th in the table and beat Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup.

Klopp's haul in Dortmund is well documented: successive titles in 2011 and 2012; the highest points tally in Bundesliga history in 2011/12 (a record since bettered by Bayern Munich); the first league-cup double in BVB history – crowned by hammering Bayern 5-2 in the cup final); and the club's first Champions League final since the glory days of the mid-nineties.

The one blot on his record book was a poor last season, when a threadbare team struggled in the lower reaches of the table before rousing themsleves to finish 7th.

The bespectacled but charismatic Klopp built up a close relationship with BVB's famous gelbe Wand – Yellow Wall – the fierce fan bloc at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion.

But the term yellow wall would have aptly applied to Klopp himself – often dressed head to foot in Dortmund's yellow and black (including a yellow baseball cap) the blond, bearded giant was a forceful presence on the sideline.

Known too for his close relationship to his players, he wasn't above riling officials and was banned from the dug out in the 2014 season for repeated abuse of a referee.

Klopp to the Kop?

So would the grinning Schwabe be a good fit for Liverpool?

Elmar Neveling, who has written a biography of Klopp, thinks so.

Speaking to Focus, Neveling said “Klopp would be really good for Liverpool. For one he speaks fluent English – which is vital for a coach like him who places great emphasis on close personal relationships with his players.

“Likewise Liverpool are a highly emotional club like Dortmund – and would fit really well with Klopp's emotional personality.”

Liverpool fans would receive him with open arms, Neveling says. “Klopp and the enthusiastic Liverpool fans, that'll be a great match – like his relationship with the south stand [in the Westfalonstadion].”

Football is an uncertain business and Liverpool fans have had their expectations raised by new arrivals on several occasions since they last won the English title in 1990, often to have them dashed before too long.

But Klopp is the longest-serving manager in the history of both clubs he's managed – if he achieves anything approaching that in north-west England, the Kop will at last be smiling again.

Will Klopp join the great Bill Shankly in having his own statue in front of the Kop? Photo: DPA

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.