Tuesday 23 January 2018

John Giles: Why oddball Klopp is the perfect fit for Anfield

Head coach Juergen Klopp leaves the press conference at Signal Iduna Park on April 15, 2015 in Dortmund, Germany
Head coach Juergen Klopp leaves the press conference at Signal Iduna Park on April 15, 2015 in Dortmund, Germany

OF all the managers in the Premier League currently shifting in their seats because Jurgen Klopp will be available for hire this summer, I reckon Brendan Rodgers has most to fear.

I know that this goes against the consensus which tags Klopp as a likely recruit for Manchester City or even Arsenal but I truly believe that Rodgers is the one with the most to worry about.

Pellegrini is not looking over his shoulder at Klopp in particular. He knows that his employers have high expectations and will dump him at a moment's notice if they feel it is the right thing to do.

Whether it is Klopp, Pep Guardiola or even Carlo Ancelotti, who I've heard mentioned as a possible recruit at the Etihad, Pellegrini lives with the knowledge that results and not newspaper gossip will hurt him most of all.

He accepted the conditions he is working under and as a result, has not been in full control of his own destiny. This is the model Manchester City have chosen and unless they reverse it completely, I do not believe that Klopp would work under the same circumstances.

Klopp would have a better chance of negotiating the conditions he wants at Arsenal, where they are used to the manager's word being the law and where Arsene Wenger has been given all the time he wants to do his work.


I don't know whether Wenger will choose to continue for another season. My gut instinct tells me he will stay but if he does decide to go and Klopp is the man they want to replace him, would the Arsenal directors be as happy to hand the fate of their club over to a new manager with the same level of control? I'm not so sure they would.

Which brings me to Rodgers and Anfield. Klopp's reputation has been built on working with scarce resources and delivering results. I think Liverpool would be a perfect fit.

I believe that Rodgers is an appeaser and his brand of touchy feely, arm around the shoulders management will only take you so far. Kevin Keegan is the best example I can think of from the past.

I have no doubt that Rodgers has talent. Just like everyone else, I was hugely entertained by the football Liverpool played on their title run last season and he has turned a bad situation around in the last three months, which shows he can think on his feet.

But I don't ever sense that he has the authority to match his ability to talk. Rodgers always searches for middle ground and a non-confrontational approach and that is a direct consequence of the infamous transfer committee at Anfield.

For all his efforts to keep Luis Suarez onside, he walked away and it looks like Raheem Sterling, a lad on the wrong path who needs some good advice right now, is going to do the same this summer.

Klopp would put an end to the transfer committee's meddling. He is not an appeaser and he has a natural authority which Rodgers lacks.


He is perceived as a maverick but one man's eccentricity is another man's genius and all the great managers have a streak in their personality which made them stand out.

Labelling these character traits as eccentricities is just the media's way of dealing with someone they don't understand but I'm sure his players wouldn't see it that way.

They know he is a winning manager who has the ability to lead and a talent for coordinating the efforts of 11 players in the pursuit of glory. How he does that may be seen as odd by some but nobody ever knows how a manager really works apart from the players and does it really matter in the end if success follows?

Klopp laughs a lot and often departs from the usual football management script but his passion for football shines through it all and I don't doubt he can be ruthless but I always feel that he knows the secret which most footballers never learn.

He understands that those of us who pursue a career as a professional footballer never really progress beyond the schoolyard in our adult life and are as lucky as any man alive to be able to pursue dreams and be paid to do it.

Managers extend that indulgence to a lifetime and I think Klopp understands this.

Football is a serious business and it is a tough, unforgiving environment but it is still playing, no matter what way you look at it.

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