Jürgen Klopp has, in his short time at Anfield, become the face of the club. In many ways, he has become one of the faces of the Premier League; one of England’s most recognisable football stars. All this as a manager rather than a player; all this in less than a year since first arriving on Merseyside. Given his passion, his lively displays from the sidelines, and his history of success this is hardly surprising. Still, Klopp himself has reservations.
“I’m not a one-man show,” insisted the Liverpool manager in an interview with Goal. “I was never that in my life, and I never want to be that. I know I’m more on television and I’m more recognisable than maybe even the players because they run and train, but I just stand there and my face does all these funny things that everyone can see all the time. I don’t want this attention and I don’t like it, but I accept it’s part of the deal.”
From celebration montages to the theme from Baywatch to freeze-frame images of his face contorted into every flavour of joyful agony imaginable, since his arrival the focus has certainly been on Klopp. Success, he insists, will only come from the team—players and coaches and support staff. At the end of the day, what Klopp does alone will matter less to Liverpool’s chances of success than what the entire team, collectively, do together.
And when it comes to the team off the pitch, many will be surprised to learn that Klopp has gone out of his way to keep former members of the backroom staff—people who served under former manager Brendan Rodgers—in their positions. A few high-profile changes have been made, changes like bringing in assistant manager Zeljko Buvac or fitness coach Anrdeas Kornmayer, but for the most part Klopp has sought not to make changes.
“It’s not easy for all these guys, because when a new manager comes in, they feel all in danger I think,” Klopp said of his attempts to keep change to a minimum. “A new start means a lot of times, especially in England, replacements. I don’t like it, even when we’ve had to do it, I really don’t like it. I love to trust people and for people to be able to trust me. We all must know that when we have problems, we need to solve them together.”
Having learned as a manager at FSV Mainz while the club was in 2.Bundesliga, Klopp says he developed that desire to trust in the knowledge and passion of others the hard way—by doing all of the jobs himself. That experience filling multiple roles at a club gave him an appreciation of what was involved. It also gave him an appreciation of how it would be impossible at the highest levels of the game for one man to do everything.
“When I started as a manager, I did everything, and it was the best school you could have,” Klopp added. “I learnt everything from point zero and that’s good. But today we don’t need that, we work together as a group who are very experienced. We talk a lot, and that for me is the best lesson you can get in a day—to speak to smart people about things they know about much more about than you do.”