Wild Play of the “Normal One”
Growing up in the Black Forrest Village of Glatten, he was a normal boy possessing German traits no less than Adolf. But instead of killing others to satiate his ever increasing fervor, he channeled his energies towards a beautiful game: the one we know as “Football” today. I call it a game but for him it was a way of life, a chance to be someone.
In his own words, he had the brains to play in the top division but talent to play in 5th. So he ended up playing in the 2nd division for a team he later lead to success they had never imagined. When Mainz signed the boy no one had thought that the one having the looks of an “8 am German” would be the one responsible for dragging Mainz to the top flight of German football. Yes!! Yes!! I am talking about KLOPP who currently belongs to the Kop.
When Jürgen joined Mainz as a manager in 2001, he was neither looking to win the Bundesliga with them nor he wanted to flirt with any of the records. He was just looking to create memories. He wanted people to feel, live and breathe football. He wanted to give them 90 minutes of joy, 90 minutes of passion, 90 minutes of love.
In 2008, when he made the switch from Mainz to Dortmund, the former had already enjoyed success they never thought they would. The Capital of Rhineland-Palatinate had many nights when the people of that River-Port witnessed something which even in the lower degrees of adjectives would be termed as aesthetically pleasing.
There is another “Football Maniac” named MARCELO BIESLA. When Bielsa’s Argentina were playing Colombia away, he came in from the warm-up and told them:
“In a street fight, there are two kinds of guy. The one who strikes, sees blood, is repelled and recoils. Then there’s one who sees blood and goes all-in to finish off the other. Well lads … I swear I smell blood in the air out there.”
Klopp’s Dortmund played as if they smelled blood on the pitch. The sprinted as if they were going for the Kill. He wanted his team to play the “Full Throttled” way. While commenting on Wenger’s Arsenal he said:
“He likes having the ball, playing football, passes. It’s like an orchestra. But it’s a silent song. I like heavy metal.”
With a transfer budget of less than Queen’s Park Rangers (QPR) Klopp laid the foundations of the Dortmund we know today. He is often quoted saying that he and his team can’t do miracles, they are just hard workers, and hard work was the mantra that he wanted to instill in his team. In his recipe for success where hard work was the Curry, his “Delusional Optimism” worked like salt.
Borrusia Dortmund were giants in deep slumber. Jurgen shook them up with such vigor that the whole world just stood still and watched. Jurgen’s craftsmanship kept getting more evident with each passing day. He wanted his team to have a persona, a certain swagger such that even if they were playing in “Red and White” and not in the traditional “Black and Yellow”, people would look at them and say:
“Oh!! Only Dortmund can play this way”
After 2 years at Dortmund, his babies were ready to boom. Under the leadership of Klopp and Kehl, they took Bundesliga by storm and kept sweeping their opponents away. Then came a day when Dortmund locked horns with the giants of German football. Yellow Wall was in full swing, it was jumping and roaring. If Westfallen Stadion could cry, it would have burst into tears when the young bombshells rocked the savants. Similar was the case when both teams played in Allianz Arena. Bayren were beaten 3-1. In his post-match conference Klopp said:
“When Dortmund last won here 19 years ago, most of my players were still being breast-fed.“
Bayren were humbled, they were annihilated on day which marked the beginning of new era. Klopp along with Peter Krawietz (Analyst/Chief Scout), Zelijko Buvac (Assistant Manager), Michael Zorc (CEO) ‘Architected’ the Dortmund that no one could have perceived. It was a crazy season, where one team from Borrusia had their dibs on the title, while the other was flirting with relegation. The season ended with lusty Dortmund claiming the title while Bayren were left cotton-mouthed, resulting in the sacking of Van Gaal.
2011-12 season started, the glittering stars of Dortmund were still there. The lure of working together with each other was superior to going to another club of total strangers. There was a comradery in the squad which amalgamated them. Instead of parting their ways in pursuit of playing with “World Class” players, they decided to become “World Class”. Domestic Success was again there to be seen but Champions League was not proving to be a bed of roses. Rising ranks in Europe was proving to be a herculean task for the uprising Germans. Dortmund again ended the season as the winners of DFB POKAL and Bundesliga.
Jurgen and his boys started next season like zealots. But this time Europe was on the receiving end. Teams were left stranded by the onslaught of the unforgiving Germans. With the bashing of Madrid and Manchester City in the group stages, they had announced their arrival on the biggest stage. To counter the recurring assaults of BVB, Bayren had appointed Pep. This appointment was seen somewhat as ‘Chinese Business’ by the men in Yellow and Black. The match between Klopp and Pep came as somewhat of a shock to the Pundits of Football. Bayren were reluctant to put the ball on the ground. They played more long balls in that match than in last decade. After this confrontation, Klopp was tipped to be the man who made Pep “Disobey his Principles”.
Similar was the case in Europe. Teams were scared, they were shaken by the way Dortmund boys pounced upon them. BVB were like a pack of wolves always in search of fresh meat to pounce upon. Whether it was the game against Pallegrini’s Malaga or the Semi-final vs Madrid, every moment was there to be cherished by the yellow wall. By securing a place in the Final of Champions league in 2012-13, Dortmund had reached the zenith. Though the fairy tale ended with a result which was described as “Shit” by Klopp himself but still it was there to be seen that Klopp’s Boys had turn into men.
BVB ended the 2013-14 season as Runner-Up of the German league, and struggled in 2014-15. Commenting on this season former Dortmund midfielder Kirch said:
“Whistles from the Yellow Wall, that was a new experience. Patience had run out, we’d used up all the goodwill we’d had in the bank. As the Wall fell, so did the certainties. Now we could feel the fear. No one said a word in the dressing room. No one shouted, no one chucked anything, no shoes, water bottles, nothing. No hairdryer from the gaffer. No anger, just silence. There were players who cried.”
Klopp decided that his work in Dortmund was complete. And it was time to pass the Baton to the man who could take his work forward. It was time for him to move to the next harbor.
Klopp’s next move as a manager might have as a surprise to the Highbrow of football, but for him the working class town of Liverpool was a perfect destination. The Galactiocos of Madrid, Catalans of Barcelona or the riches of Paris can never give him the vibe: the intensity of a working class environment. Moreover, the notion of industrious football in an industrial environment seems to be the perfect fit for the man who wears his heart on his sleeve. He wants to create, to build something up. Instead of being the King, he wants to be the “Conqueror”. Instead of talking about LFC’s history he wants to create history.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 09: Jurgen Klopp at Anfield is unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC during a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
In his 1st training session with them, Kloppo wrote the word “Terrible” on a white board. He said to his players that he wanted their opponents to feel that word after that game irrespective of the result. His philosophy of “Full Throttle Football” will take some time to be implemented but he is the Knight in the shining armor that can reinstate LFC to the place they are worthy of.
I can start throwing darts at adjectives from aggressive to zealot, and might hit one that describes Klopp, but his aura is beyond my descriptive aptitude. But the “Normal One” will surely be the one to remember.
And to those who question his way of working, his touchline antics, his zestful celebration, all I want to say is:
“A blind man can never understand what color is!!!”