As Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool tenure rolls into its second year, it becomes clearer by the day just how different the club's most recent managers are. Where Brendan Rodgers could seem overly involved with presentation and image - frequently immaculately dressed and, as time wore on, increasingly trim of waist and white of tooth - Klopp eschews anything fancier than a tracksuit. Where Rodgers was often inclined to bloviate about his ideas regarding tactics and psychology, Klopp terms his football heavy metal, preaches hard work, and calls it a day. The scruffy beard, the floppy hair and the big goofy grin complete the disguise, lulling us all into thinking he's right when he calls himself "the normal one."
It's all a ruse, of course. Jürgen Klopp is a very, very sharp customer:
"First of all, we have to convince the players about our way and what we want to do.
"When I’m involved, everybody talks about hard work, more running than everybody, high pressure, counter-pressing… but that’s only one part.
"I don’t care what people talk about, but it is part of my image and that’s not bad because maybe I am here because of my image.
"There are a lot of things you can do, you have to plan, and there are things you have to use in a game, especially when the players are skilled like my players are.
"Everybody expects everything works from the first second – so, we play against this team like [Manchester] City, Tottenham, [Manchester] United… whoever – and you cause them problems and win the game. ‘Ah, that’s good’, but now you have to win against a ‘bus-parking’ team, whoever that is. In the same moment, you should have a solution for this but how can you have this when you have worked together for five weeks? It is not possible. If it was that easy, everybody could do it!
"In this moment, my feeling is the Liverpool supporters are really patient enough to wait for it because we’ve shown them the first steps."
It's not often you catch the former Dortmund man talking about himself, and even here, it's only for a sentence or two before he's referring to the team and the fans again, but the casual implication is clear; Klopp knows. He's on the pulse of what people are saying. He knows what is expected of his team. He understands how he is viewed, and plays the role to perfection. That's not to say that his hugs aren't filled with the love of a thousand puppies or that his jaw isn't constantly at genuine risk of dislocation, merely that if punters and pundits alike want to see him as nothing more than a passionate motivator of hard workers, then Klopp isn't inclined to correct them.
Not with words, at any rate. But certainly with his results. And perhaps with his legacy:
"Let’s talk about football, think about football and play football, that’s what we try with all the pressure on it, with all the knowledge about how long it is since we last won the title.
"We decide how it should feel and if we are patient enough, I think a lot of good things can happen here."
I think so too.