Everyone knows the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. These stages are a framework that was developed to help people identify and understand their feelings after a loss. Well, in the last two weeks, I have put together a similar framework, created largely thanks to my own experiences and the experiences of others witnessed on Twitter and various social media site.
I'm calling it the Five Stages of Your Club is Actually Making That Big Signing. It has many of the same features of its more somber inspiration -- with some notable exceptions -- and I saw them all play out in detail when rumors began surfacing that Liverpool Football Club might sign Jürgen Klopp to become the twentieth manager in the club's history.
1. Denial - No way will Klopp come to Liverpool. If they were going to get him, they would have done it in May. Anyway, he'll have his pick of jobs come the summertime -- especially if Mourinho leaves Chelsea.
2. Anger - FSG won't want to sign such a strong personality. They'll mess it up just like they always do. Man, imagine Ian Ayre trying to negotiate with him. He'll probably try to get Klopp to ride on his motorcycle.
3. Bargaining - I will give them anything if they'll just sign Klopp. My car, my house, my children -- I don't even have children. I will BIRTH children just to donate them to the cause. Bring him in!
4. Euphoria - Am I drunk? I feel drunk. I need to pull up his flight information and make sure he lands in the right place! We're gonna get Reus! We're gonna win the league! We're gonna win the World Cup! Is that possible? It is now! Hahaha gegenpressing Klopp pun Klopp pun gif gif
5. Acceptance - It's really happened! There's leaning! There's scarf and contract-pen-holding! He's tall like a majestic giraffe! ...And now what's next? The international break is literally the worst creation in the history of mankind.
Here we are though. It took less than a week after Brendan Rodgers' sacking for the owners to come to an agreement with Klopp. This sort of quick turnaround implies a lot of work behind closed doors in the days and weeks before the Everton game. And as it began to sink in that this was, in fact, really happening, the intensity of the excitement was overwhelming. The Liverpool higher ups, with a shocking lack of consideration for those of us living in different time zones, set the new manager's first official press conference and interview for 8am BST, leading to plenty of late nights or early wake-ups for those of us not lucky enough to live on the right continent.
New manager press conferences seem pretty hard to mess up. In this particular case, Klopp hasn't even met most of the players because they're away playing for their countries. Anyway, this isn't the time for journalists to pull out the hard hitting questions. But even for something as low stakes as an introduction press conference, Klopp got everything right. He talked about his appreciation for the club, the reasons why he chose Liverpool, and snuck in a shout out to his mother. Then he spoke about expectations, and how heavy they can be for a team. He asked for patience, and then turned around and said he expected Liverpool to win the league within the next four years. And he did it all with a grin that wasn't just for show. He even managed a dig at Jose Mourinho.
He delivered, in short, everything that poor schmucks like me waking up at four in the morning were hoping he would.
Tom Werner said that FSG hiring Klopp represented the ambitions that they have for this club. That may well be, but for the fans, what he represents is more visceral than that: it's hope. Hope after 18 months of watching our team stagnate, looking uninspired and disappointing. Hope despite saying good bye to our captain and last remaining superstar. Hope that maybe next Saturday we won't be seeing the same mistakes made again and again.
Is there a 100% certainty that Jürgen Klopp will work out as Liverpool manager? Well no. He's walking in during the most difficult time in the team's season, and the congested fixture list will mean that he's got it all to do. And I bet that famous high pressing game of his is easier on the body when there's a winter break to look forward to and only has three competitions to play in, instead of Liverpool's current four.
But the man himself said, in his message to the supporters, that we needed to stop doubting and start believing. I don't think we're quite there yet -- not before a ball has even been kicked. But at least there's hope now, and that's a pretty good start.