To be the best of the best in today's game, a manager has to be part-tactician, part-scout, part-TV personality, part-psychologist, and about a million other things. Jürgen Klopp has these things in abundance, plus one other key factor, "Coolness."
When I say "cool" I'm not talking about how he has his own Liverpool clothing line after one freakin' day. Nor am I talking about the undeserved stereotype of Germans being cold.
Of all the things I expected from Klopp, cool isn't one of them. He's known for his passion. For his full throttle, heavy metal football. Not for his coolness. But since his very first interview, that is exactly what has come through. He is cool in every way that Rodgers was not. While Rodgers always had a cool exterior, it always felt manufactured. As if he thought this is the way managers are supposed to sound and act. He was like when you see a politician on a late night talk show laughing with an unnatural intensity to a joke that wasn't that funny. "I'm supposed to laugh now, HAHAHA!"
Klopp, conversely, likes to crack jokes, smile, sometimes become mildly annoyed, and show a range of emotions during interviews. But when watching him, you sense a calm, cool confidence beneath the exterior.
All managers have their gimmicks to help motivate players. Rodgers had the infamous Three Envelopes of Doom™. When Jürgen Klopp came in, he wrote one word on a whiteboard in big, capital letters, "TERRIBLE." The charismatic German wasn't making a statement about the current crop of players, but instead wanted this one word to represent how other teams would feel after playing us. Terrible.
Making other teams feel terrible is a simple and straight forward concept, even if it will take a great deal of work to get there. The players didn't leave the meeting in a cloud of confusion, thinking about envelopes and their possible contents. They left the meeting with a clearly stated objective, and something they could work on immediately. Cool.
In three competitive matches so far, the results have been a tad disappointing, but ask Spurs, Rubin Kazan, and Saints how they felt after the match. My guess would be something close to "Terrible." We outran Spurs, and held them to a point with a miserable scoreless draw on their home ground. We pinned Kazan back in their own territory for most of the game; yes they'll be pleased with the away point, but having to defend while a man down for an hour is never fun. And the Saints powerful attack created few chances from open play.
While the goals—two in three matches—have yet to come, Klopp has remained poised, and emphasized the need to change the overall mentality. Simply, the team needs to be cooler with the ball.
After the blistering 102 goals scored in 2013/14, the team has had the weight of expectations to carry around in every match. If the team wasn't scoring 3, 4, 5+ goals per match, something was terribly wrong. It's as if no one explained that scoring 100+ goals in a season isn't normal, and that the team would be better served by manufacturing one goal at a time, not trying to score them all at once.
The flowing attack which produced all those wonderful goals had a great deal of things this team lacks, up to and including coolness. They weren't worried about missing chances, because they knew there would be others. They weren't concerned with attempting long-range worldie after long-range worldie because they were making cutting, incisive runs into the box.
When Suarez left and Sturridge got injured, we began to panic in front of goal, and that panic has yet to subside.
Klopp was right to pinpoint this lack of composure on the ball, especially in public. In his cool way, he's telling the players: I see the panic and confusion when attacking. It's OK. We're going to learn to be cool together, and then the goals will come.
Klopp's inner calm, confidence, and cool is readily apparent to everyone. He has a clear vision for how football should be played, and the team is already buying in. And when the team finally gets over their attacking anxiety, playing Liverpool will become a truly terrible experience.