Fear The Wall was kind enough to sit with The Liverpool Offside for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview to cover a few bases ahead of today's mouthwatering Europa league clash in Westfalenstadion between Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.
The Liverpool Offside: The hugs, the teeth, the legend: Jürgen Klopp. Quite the connection between our two clubs. Not the only one to have graced both Anfield and Westfalenstadion in recent times, though, with Nuri Sahin having also spent time at both clubs. At Liverpool he went from miscast to castaway in the course of a single loan season where many a Reds fan felt he was too hastily eschewed by Brendan Rodgers.
How has Nuri Sahin's Dortmund Redux gone?
Fear The Wall: Well, he was hurt for the entire first half of the season, which had me very worried. Then he came back from injury and immediately started featuring in the squad as soon as February. He fit right in and has been an important piece in our 2016 unbeaten run. We're happy that Klopp's predecessor didn't have much eye for talent *cough* Balotelli.
TLO: Cough drop? No? Ok, so, another thing our clubs have shared in recent seasons is time spent punching below their weight. Regrettably, for Liverpool this has spanned several seasons, but Dortmund also had their collapse last year under Klopp before rebounding. And now this season it is back to supernova status, again, under Tuchel's Tu(chel)telage. What has that been like to experience? Lessons learned?
FTW: It's been pretty great. I was hopeful for this year but I never thought we would be on pace to break our club point record. I think what happened last year is what happens when any big personality coach coaches somewhere too long, the players get tired. TT also uses different tactics then his predecessor and has helped improve the play of playmaking god Henrik Mkhitaryan.
TLO: You could not have picked a bigger sore spot if you tried...
FTW: As far as lessons learned, BVB has had some pretty big low points in the past 15 years, but things always got better. I say to any fan down in the dumps about losing success, just keep supporting and things will fix themselves. Unless they are Portsmouth fans, then my advice would be to have fun in the fourth tier of English football forever.
TLO: Speaking of lessons learned, is there anything we should learn about your lads' weaknesses for this tie? Chinks in the armor? Hidden frailties? Obvious frailties? Or are you lot as dastardly untouchable as we all fear?
FTW: Our defense has been in some injury trouble as of late so that may be our biggest weakness for this upcoming game. That being said we still have had one of the best defensive runs in Europe during this calendar year. If there's one weakness BVB do have, it's that we have a lot of trouble getting started early. We've had our fair share of games this year that were absolute disasters, until we made some clutch late game subs and saved ourselves. So if I had to give Liverpool a pep talk before the game, I'd tell them to put as much pressure on BVB as they could at the start of the game.
TLO: Ever since Klopp arrived at Anfield he's preached about the importance of having time to develop the group. About having patience while he and his crew impose their way on the players, and develop a first and second nature of play for the team. And all this while fans have employed a predictable hyper focus on the here and now of results. Impatiently demanding the shipping out of deadweight squad members and the shipping in of top quality replacements.
The question, then, is to what do Dortmund owe more of their success under Klopp: transfer business or in house development?
FTW: That's a tough one.
TLO: YOU HEAR THAT FATHER?
FTW: Um... Aaanywayyy... Klopp had some great bargain buys during his time at BVB. Although those seem like master buys back then, I believe that those players only became the players they are today due to his amazing man management skills. Him and BVB had a great team of instructors and faculties that kept the pipeline flowing. Without it is still flowing but I'm sure he'll take his knowledge of talent development to 'Pool
TLO: Rags to riches and riches to rags. Was there any player that was assumed to have no future under Klopp, only to turn it around shine against all expectation? What about the reverse--any surefire foot-in-boot fits that just went nowhere and got shipped off?
FTW: Mkhitaryan struggled greatly under Klopp last year. This year however he's been one of the best play makers in Europe. We haven't shipped many players yet but most players have played very well so far who were here last year.
TLO: Marvelous the way it just rolls off the tongue for you lot. Anyway, who gives the best hugs, peaky Klopp or big-boned Klopp? Follow up question, which is the best Klopp-culture mashup video or gif, and why is it this one?
FTW: The more hype Klopp is, the better. And that video is great.
TLO: Reus, Auba, Gundogan, and Hummels get most of the column inches, but you guys have a dirty little secret about the success of this team, don't you? And his name is Julian Weigl isn't it? What sort of dark magic did it take to snap him up for a song and a dance, how much would it take for Liverpool to prize him away, and does he come with free shipping?
FTW: Weigl is still a little young to make his big move I think. And yea he's amazing. His pass accuracy is over 90% pretty much every game and he's set the Bundesliga record for completed passes in a single game already this year.
TLO: Just how good is Tuchel at this managing malarkey and what can Liverpool fans expect from the man when he arrives on Mersey to take the reigns of the 2023-24 season?
FTW: TT is probably a better tactical coach then Klopp, which has helped this team greatly this year. I know Liverpool are scared of coaches that are branded as tacticians *cough* Brendan Rodgers, so I'd expect that Pool probably won't be too interested in TT in the near future.
TLO: A lot can happen in seven years! Score predictions?
FTW: First game will be 3-0 next one will be 2-2. You'll put up a fight at home, but we are in some ridiculous form right now.