It’s been two years since charismatic German tactician Jurgen Klopp graced the Premier League football for the very first time.
On the back of a remarkable success with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund and with an infectious smile Klopp arrived to Anfield to break the English football stereotypes as he went on hugging the Liverpool chiefs during his official unveil.
The hugs have long become his trademark move and it took a while for uptight British to get used to seeing this towering German hugging and embracing his every single player after every single match.
Far from being the only change he introduced at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp arrived to reshape the way Liverpool play, to set the new standards at the club and heal the family atmosphere the Reds proudly boast themselves with.
Two years down the line did Jurgen Klopp manage to ‘change doubters into believers’?
Well, apparently not.
The Manchester United clash – the biggest match in English football – comes as the perfect occasion for Jurgen Klopp to celebrate his second anniversary and possibly shift the general tide of opinion back to his favour.
Premier League title contenders will be a great test to Liverpool’s progress under the German tactician who’s come under great scrutiny recently, with numbers arguing the 50-year-old big-smile guy is no better than his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers.
The Numbers’ Story
Jurgen Klopp oversaw 75 Liverpool’s Premier League games in his two-year stint at Anfield.
During this time, Opta have highlighted nicely, the German managed 38 wins. His team scored 146 goals, kept 22 clean sheets and had a 51% winning percentage.
If we take six most recent Liverpool managers into consideration, however, the numbers above put Jurgen Klopp in third place behind Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers with the same winning percentage of (54.67).
The stats don’t lie – they say. And they don’t. Except they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. The stats are like a bikini – they also say if you will. Choosing a side with the numbers is a matter of personal preference and Jurgen Klopp’s critics would often resort to this kind of argument when they attempt to describe Jurgen Klopp’s influence and overall achievement at Liverpool.
Head to Head Stats
Fitting into the entire stats and numbers category, different aspects according to which different managers can be compared – in a general state of affair – would also be trophies, transfers and playing style. Team atmosphere is created around them and all the hugs in the world would not help Jurgen Klopp argue with that.
As far as trophies are concerned, Jurgen Klopp had a chance to win two of those. Brendan Rodgers came agonizingly close to winning the biggest prize of them all but we will let that slip our mind for now. Pain-inflicting pun intended.
Transfer activity and buying/selling policy is an aspect that exceeds the manager’s jurisdiction – which Jurgen Klopp seemingly attempted to edit by negotiating a bigger say in club’s dealings prior to his arrival to Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers had a great idea to bring unpolished gems for a reasonable sum of money. Can, Lallana, Moreno and Lovren remain at the club whereas on the departure end we saw an exodus which, most notably included Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez.
Jurgen Klopp came as a trump card that has helped Reds attract better and more notable players for similar sum of money. Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Joel Matip proved the point, although some questionable decisions such as Ragnar Klavan will be hard to explain.
When it comes to departures, football has taught us that no manager in the world is able to hold on to a player wanting to leave. Jurgen Klopp passed the initial test with Philippe Coutinho, but we’ll assess this standpoint in the summer.
The True Story
There is a thing working in Jurgen Klopp’s favour that can’t be measured and compared. And it’s a thing hiding the true value of the German tactician and his influence at Liverpool. Call me a biased Reds fan but there is an aura around this man, a heart-winning feeling he creates.
Perhaps it’s his visually appealing gegenpressing football philosophy, or a romantic’s approach to the game and love for football. It really is difficult to explain. The 50-year-old German’s charisma and honesty as a direct contract to English reserve and understating behavior is refreshing to see.
Jurgen Klopp is an old-fashioned, football-loving guy who – through his glasses – sees the true value of this beautiful game and looks beyond the corporate aspects of the entire story. He had a chance to come to Manchester United, that’s true. And as a Liverpool fan it hurts me to admit it. But he did not want to disappoint Borussia Dortmund and leave in the middle of the project and that is something you have to appreciate about him.
Klopp builds for the future, not for the now and – as hard as it gets to understand it from the current big-spending perspective when success can be bought instead of earned – he deserves to be given time.
Having topped the attacking lines of his team with some exciting talents in Mane, Firmino and Salah, Jurgen Klopp can be blamed to failing to solve the defensive frailties – which could cost him the season – but let’s not doubt that he will have it all sorted out in due time.
Because he will.
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