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Despite Himself, Klopp Proves He Is Not Normal

In taking this Liverpool side to two separate cup finals in the span of seven months, Jürgen Klopp is demonstrating what a special manager he really is.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Liverpool fans have become specialists in a very particular sort of analysis over the barren years void of Premier League gold; finding the runs of form or periods of time in which the club has been the best in England. This practice is used to argue that when things go right their team is one of the very best in the land. That next year could be the one, because look at this run we went on. The inexorable truth that always accompanies these stretches of terrific play - and there have quite a few, and they've often been quite long - is that they never stretch from August till May, and thus never lead to that coveted first place

Two weeks ago, in a special post-Klopp league table, Liverpool were 4th. They've not been the best, but solidly in Champion's League contender form since the German took over. This despite some patchy league form, and some devastating late surrenders to drop points in games they've thoroughly controlled. Despite being ravaged by injury in the middle - and now latter - part of the season. Despite using 38(!) players over the course of what is going to be 63 matches in four competitions, handing first team debuts to eight teenagers this year, and putting out the youngest ever Liverpool side in Premier League history last weekend.

Granted, that has gone downhill in recent weeks with only a solitary point from the last two league matches, and this has been an oddball season if there's ever been one, but on top of coaxing solid weekly league performances - and some absolute classics - out of a young and depleted team, there's the cup finals. Two of them, now. The first since 2012, and the first European and truly elite one since all the way back in 2007. Taking a team that had three straight draws to less than stellar opposition to open its group, and that looked completely bereft of confidence and belief, past Augsburg, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and now Villarreal, is not normal. A pair of top European sides and just bagfuls of narrative in there. Klopp has been at the heart of performances loaded with both tactical mastery and passionate emotion.

Klopp, of course, true to his nature, doesn't want to be hear any talk of him being a catalyst for any of this. He's just part of the team. When quizzed on his directing the crowd in a chant after the match, the self-proclaimed Normal One was quick to deflect the attention:

"I heard after the game that the crowd sang my name.

"This is a good moment to say that please no one has to sing my name really.

"I am only part of the team and I love football because of being part of the team. I really love this.

"But it happened with me. I would say that it was nice in this moment."

On a night where Emre Can forcefully stated his case as quite possibly the best midfielder at the club, where Daniel Sturridge again looked the predatory match-winner we know and love, and where Roberto Firmino displayed his unique brand of Brazilian flair paired with German efficiency to devastating success, Jürgen Klopp still stood out as the most important part of the team. His mixture of tactical acumen and vehement passion makes him both the brain and the heart of this team, and his ardour further engages the fans, which contributes to the cauldronous atmosphere Anfield has produced recently.

Normal? Not at all.

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