• Sáb. May 18th, 2024

-> Noticias de futbol internacional

The Athletic


After almost nine years in charge and seven major trophies, Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool.

He has been one of the most transformative managers in the club’s history and in English football’s modern era.

To mark his departure, The Athletic is bringing you The Real Jurgen Klopp, a series of pieces building the definitive portrait of one of football’s most recognisable figures.

  • Part 1: ‘The normal guy from the Black Forest’

It was, as Jurgen Klopp would later poetically state, the “one drop that made the bucket overflow”.

Liverpool were clinging to a slender 1-0 lead against their old adversaries Manchester City in October 2022 and Mohamed Salah’s advances down the flank were halted by a tug from Bernardo Silva, only for no foul to be given.

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Klopp burst from his technical area, making a beeline for assistant referee Gary Beswick 15 yards away. He did it again shortly afterwards as play continued. The Football Association’s subsequent investigation noted “aggression” in a furious barrage delivered inches from Beswick’s face.

“How could you not? How could you not?” screamed Klopp, incensed at Beswick’s failure to flag for a foul on Salah.

The still images made as many headlines as Liverpool’s eventual victory over Pep Guardiola’s side at Anfield. The clenched fists and snarling teeth. Even Klopp, quickly finding contrition in the aftermath, would accept he had “lost control” of his emotions.


Jurgen Klopp is sent off against Manchester City in 2022 (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

It was the biggest fall from a tightrope that Klopp spent eight and a half years walking as Liverpool manager. The intensity and zeal he demanded from his players was mirrored in the technical area, routinely creating storms and altercations. Referees and their assistants felt Klopp’s wrath, as did countless fourth officials. Opposing managers and support staff, too, and journalists. They all saw that bucket overflow.

Klopp will be remembered as a touchline tornado, the powder keg placed next to a fire.

The good days brought wild, excessive celebrations, like a sprint onto the pitch to celebrate a Merseyside derby winner with Alisson in 2018 and the broken glasses away to Norwich City in 2016. The bad days ended with altercations, clashes and FA charges.

Klopp claimed last week to have become “calmer over the years” but camera lenses have always known to track his movement, awaiting the eruptions. Liverpool fans have loved Klopp for it, seeing that volatility as a virtue. Premier League rivals and referees, though, have not always been quite as enamoured.


Tony Pulis says he cannot remember when he and Klopp first “rubbed each other up the wrong way” but there was no doubt that they did.

Pulis was manager of West Bromwich Albion when Liverpool fought back to draw 2-2 with his side at Anfield in December 2015 — a game best remembered for the post-match celebrations in front of the Kop.

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A feisty contest ended with Klopp snubbing a handshake with Pulis. It had not been “a friendly game”, according to Klopp, who suggested West Brom had “only played long balls”. West Brom winger James McClean, not one to run from an argument, responded by calling Klopp “a bit of an idiot”.

There would be an apology from Klopp a few days later and an insistence the post-match handshake had slipped his mind, saying he had been “very emotional”.

His reaction also opened a window into Klopp’s matchday mindset.

“In that situation, it was not easy to switch on the lamps and switch them off,” he said. “We are coaches of different teams and we say things you never would usually. That’s how it is on the pitch.”

Pulis agrees. “It can be a very lonely place,” he tells The Athletic. “Very similar to a lot of managers, he would be really engrossed in his world in that moment, doing everything he possibly could to get his team to win.

“I don’t think any manager will go out with preconceived ideas about what’s going to happen with the guy next to you. I was never the quietest but I would be amazed if I did anything differently with him that I’d done to other people.

“That competitive spirit he’s got is part and parcel of being in the job. It’s the DNA you need to be successful.”


Tony Pulis had some duels with Jurgen Klopp (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Pulis was one of 85 managers Klopp faced during his nine seasons in the Premier League. Relations have typically been cordial enough down the years, most notably with his closest rival Guardiola, but Klopp’s histrionics have attracted friction along the way.

Take the ding-dong with Frank Lampard, manager of Chelsea in July 2020, who was heard telling Klopp to “f*** off” during a lockdown fixture at Anfield. “Fair play to Liverpool Football Club, they’ve won the league, but also don’t get too arrogant with it,” said Lampard, still stewing after full-time.

That was followed soon after by another flashpoint with Sean Dyche, then the manager of Burnley. Heated words were exchanged in the tunnel at half-time in a game where Burnley would eventually become the first Premier League team in four years to win at Anfield.

“It was nothing out of the normal — just two managers fighting to win a game,” said Dyche. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

All the cross words, all the finger-pointing between technical areas, almost add to the mythology surrounding Klopp, who embodies his teams — breathless and intense.

“The way he conducted himself around me, I’ve got nothing but praise for him and how he is,” Steve Bruce, who faced Klopp four times as Newcastle United manager between 2019 and 2021, tells The Athletic.

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“He’s a big imposing man to start with and his level of enthusiasm is really what sets him apart. What you see is what you get from him. He’s got a bit of charisma, a bit of everything about him.

“The way they play, I love his style, they’re up and at you. I’ve got the highest respect for him and what he’s achieved, and on a personal level, going up against him, I’ve found him to be a good sport. Probably because he wins all the time.”


Sean Dyche and Jurgen Klopp clashed at Burnley in 2018 (John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Purposely or not, does Klopp intimidate his opponents from across the technical area’s divide? “No, I never felt intimidated by him,” says Bruce. “He’s certainly a presence. He’s got an air about him. There’s only a few that have got that. You know what’s coming from him and his teams reflect that enthusiasm and intensity he brings on the touchline.”

Pulis, too, became accepting of Klopp’s behaviour. “It was difficult because you were facing Liverpool weren’t you? You were more concerned about what was happening on the pitch than the man stood next to you.

“My whole concentration was doing the best I possibly could against Liverpool. Obviously you’ll disagree with different decisions sometimes, you get frustrated, you get annoyed and say things on the side of the pitch you shouldn’t do. But he’s no different really to most managers in that respect.”


If there is respect for Klopp from the manager’s union, an understanding that tempers will inevitably snap under enormous pressures, match officials have formed a less favourable opinion.

Klopp was charged four times by the Football Association, amassing £158,000 ($200,000) of fines, with three cases stemming from episodes involving referees. The only one that did not was when Klopp sprinted to celebrate that late winner over Everton by hugging his goalkeeper, Alisson.

There were also six yellow cards shown to Klopp in Premier League games, the most recent coming in a 3-1 win over Burnley in February.

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PGMOL, the refereeing body, says nothing of Klopp’s behaviour but the personalising of a feud with Paul Tierney was not well received. “I have no problems with any referees, only you,” Klopp was filmed saying to Tierney after a 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur in December 2021.

The sore was exposed again 18 months later following a dramatic 4-3 victory over Spurs. Klopp had celebrated a late Diogo Jota winner by running up to fourth official John Brooks, an act that would bring a pulled hamstring and a yellow card from Tierney. “Without you, without you,” Klopp allegedly had told Brooks, a suggestion Liverpool had won despite the officials.

“We have our story, history with Mr Tierney,” said Klopp during a post-match interview with UK broadcaster Sky Sports. “I really don’t know what this man has with us… always will say there is nothing, and it’s not true. My celebration was unnecessary, which is fair, but what he said to me when he gave me the yellow card is not OK.”

PGMOL took the unusual step of releasing a statement in response, defending Tierney’s “professional manner” after analysis of the in-game communications between officials and refuting any suggestion from Klopp of “improper” conduct.

Klopp would apologise again for his actions during an FA disciplinary hearing, both for his celebrations in front of Brooks and the “tone” of his post-match comments. His defence? Klopp claimed to have been “overly emotional”. A two-game ban was handed out, with one game suspended, as well as a £75,000 fine.

Patrick Davison had interviewed Klopp that day for Sky Sports. “It was almost like he was regretting it as he was saying it,” says Davison. “I’m not sure with him if he’s trying to use the media to his advantage. With the Tierney incident, it was to his disadvantage because he ended up getting charged.

“Whether he’s in a good mood or a bad mood, he’s always box office. It’s almost not an interview with him. It can almost be like an argument in a pub. I don’t think he has pre-arranged or pre-determined things he wants to say. He just speaks. And that’s the theatre with him; it’s like anything can happen.”


Jurgen Klopp confronts Paul Tierney at Tottenham in 2021 (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Referees might not mourn Klopp’s exit. Mark Clattenburg will not claim to speak for all his former refereeing colleagues but he gave a withering assessment of Klopp in his 2021 autobiography.

“Jurgen Klopp. Brilliant manager. Sour loser,” wrote Clattenburg, who first came across Klopp at Borussia Dortmund. “It annoyed me when managers could not be gracious in defeat. Klopp never took losing well and that followed him to the Premier League. He had a bit of Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) about him in that regard, and he would also try to intimidate you.

“When he was winning he was happy, he was good fun. When things were not going his way, he got prickly. That is just the way he was.”


Liverpool are close to appointing Arne Slot as their new head coach — and The Athletic has every angle covered
  • Who could be Liverpool’s winners and losers under Dutchman?
  • Adam Crafton: What I learned from time with Arne Slot
  • What kind of football does he play?
  • Dirk Kuyt: Why this coach could be perfect for Anfield
  • James Pearce: Replacing Klopp is no longer the impossible job

Klopp stayed in character until the end. That bruising loss away to Everton last month, effectively ending any hopes of signing off with a Premier League title, saw him remonstrate with the fourth official for long periods of the first half.

“Who doesn’t yell at the referee or the fourth official?” says Bruce. “We’ve all been at it. It’s only when you step back from football you look at the poor fourth official and wonder what the hell he can do about it. But Klopp was no different to anyone else really.”


Jurgen Klopp’s competitive streak was still on show at Everton recently (Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)


Even Klopp’s critics — and there are plenty — will accept his touchline demeanour made for compelling viewing. He could make the stories as well as he shaped them, good and bad.

Few watched him as closely in the Premier League and Champions League as Des Kelly, the former lead interviewer at BT Sport, now TNT Sport, otherwise known as Klopp’s least favourite UK broadcaster.

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“There’s always a camera trained on him because he’s a big personality and he’s part of the show,” says Kelly, who would typically watch Liverpool fixtures from an observer’s seat behind the dugout. “It’s all part of the circus. He’s passionate about his side, he wants to energise them, he wants them to press and be on the front foot. He’s driving them on and he wants the crowd to join in. The opposition might not like it but Liverpool fans love it.

“There’s no way he’s an ogre or some sort of bully. He just lets himself off the leash from time to time.”

Kelly felt that first-hand. One feisty post-match interview for a Saturday lunchtime TV game away to Brighton in November 2020 saw Klopp suggest TNT Sport had been responsible for James Milner’s hamstring injury. “He was ready for a rumble that day,” says Kelly.

The back and forth between Klopp and Kelly began a news cycle on the concerns over fixture scheduling. “It ended up being a perfectly rational conversation, a proper debate,” says Kelly. “It went on for eight or nine minutes and the producer was in my ear trying to wrap me up two or three times.

“It was a discussion and if I cut it short it’ll be me backing off. Eight or nine minutes doesn’t sound a lot but for a post-match interview, which normally goes on for three minutes tops, it kept going with me ignoring the producer. We almost missed the kick-off of the Man City game at 3pm.”

As circumstances would have it, Kelly was back to see Klopp just days later as Liverpool hosted Ajax in a Champions League game televised by the broadcaster.

“It was Covid regulations at the time so the ground was empty but there was an army of photographers. You could hear them clicking as Klopp came out before the game.

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“He mumbled something and I couldn’t quite catch what he said. It sounded like, ‘You want some?’, and then he said, ‘What a world we live in’, looking at the cameras.

“I thought it was weird but we did the interview. Gary Lineker was in the studio (as the presenter) and he was listening. He asked, ‘Did you hear what he said?’. It turned out he said, ‘You won, son. What a world we live in’. Even if it was delivered with a bit of vinegar, it was a generous opening. After that, he was fine.”

Davison has also encountered Klopp in his combative moments, such as after a Merseyside derby in 2017, once Wayne Rooney had converted a contentious penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw for Everton.

“I remember being told very early that this guy is going to challenge you,” says Davison, Sky’s touchline reporter. “He will ask you questions, come back at you, be like no other manager you’ve dealt with. It proved to be so true.

“Klopp is actually like no other person I’ve met. Massive, so self-confident. A lot of managers will have bits they want to get across but the key for Klopp — and I’m sure it’s the reason he connects so well with fans — is that he’s so very genuine and an authentic communicator.

“Whether he’s in a good mood or a bad mood, he’s always box office. You’re always in the game as a journalist with him. If you don’t wilt, hold your ground a little bit, then he will 100 per cent get the rewards. He will say fascinating stuff because he just does.”


Jurgen Klopp speaks to Des Kelly (left) and Peter Crouch of BT Sport (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

There are moments of levity, though.

“The last game I did with him, the win at Fulham (in April), he was taking the p*** out of me for my coat. He said, ‘You know why you’re cold today, it’s because your coat is s***. I watched you come across the pitch and I thought you’re either brave or stupid’. I told him we’d done enough interviews by now for him to know which one it was.”

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The matchdays — and there have been about 490 as Liverpool manager — are perhaps what have taken most from Klopp’s reserves. For all the scrutiny he faces in an all-consuming role, it is when Liverpool play that most is asked of him. Before, during and after, there are onerous expectations placed upon the manager of the elite clubs.

“I do think he finds it exhausting sometimes,” says Davison. “The demands placed on managers are huge and sometimes it shows. You see the times he gets angry with a journalist but I would take the one bad day with Klopp for the 100 good days you get.”

Klopp insists this weekend will be the last the Premier League sees of him. One of English football’s most flammable figures has burned himself out after eight and a half years and a quieter life calls him away from Anfield.

“We’re talking about one of the greats here,” says Bruce. “I’ll miss him and the Premier League will miss him. Say what you like about him, watching him brightens up your day.”

(Top photos: Getty Images; design: Eamonn Dalton)