Picking Five from the Club’s Selection:
“Celebrating the draw with West Brom”
Jürgen Klopp drew attention — and misunderstanding — when, early in his tenure as Reds’ boss, he gathered the team in a line to “celebrate” a late-fought 2-2 draw with Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion in December 2015. Pulis, and the media, misunderstood the gesture. In preceding weeks, Klopp had noted that he felt “alone” as supporters got off from the ground early. This “celebration” was not what it seemed: Klopp and his players were simply thanking the supporters for staying, for not packing it in.
In the club video, Klopp reminds us that “we are not alone on this planet and we for sure should not be alone in a football game, not the supporters, not the team — otherwise it makes no sense.”
Perhaps one of the most defining elements of the Klopp era at Liverpool is the sense of community he has built, amongst fans and players alike.
“Losing the League Cup Final on penalties”
Though we may forget it now, Klopp once had a reputation for losing when it mattered, for losing in cup finals, for lacking the final piece. Losing to Manchester City in 2016 after coming so close to silverware is an almost forgotten cup final failure, perhaps, but should have given early warning signs of the squad’s mental resilience.
“I always say and I really think the only reason for a defeat is to react in the right way; if you learn off it, then it’s a just result; if you don’t learn off it then it is a disaster.”
His Reds learned, though maybe not right away.
“Sevilla prevails in the Europa League”
After losing in Basel in 2016 so soon after the League Cup loss, Klopp insisted that the boys “tried” and that the squad would “come back.” Reflecting on the Europa League loss now, the boss does not think anything would be different had his side won silverware. “We learned off it, and I think we would have learned off it as well if we would have won.”
“Qualifying for a final is pretty much in all parts of life a massive achievement, until you lose it, and then it’s like all the rest never happened…You try everything, you get something or nothing, and then you try again.”
Would you rather lose a final than never be in one at all?
“97 points gets just second place”
Another test of the squad’s resilience, achieving near perfection in the Premier League in 2019/20 and getting nothing in return. Before the Reds lifted the sixth European Cup in Madrid, they had to sit with the fact that they came within a point of the 19th Premier League title. They had to reflect on the effort expended, and whether or not the effort was worth it — whether or not they could go again in 2020/21. The points tally was not the only number Klopp uses to define the domestic season:
“The number was not 97 points, it was 11 mm [when we didn’t score at Manchester City] … Giving absolutely everything doesn’t guarantee that you win anything, but it’s your only chance.”
Indeed, falling short from so close did nothing if not spur the Reds on (and a sixth European Cup might have helped as well — don’t worry, the club tapped the Barcelona comeback and the final in Madrid as defining moments, too).
“Ending the 30-year wait”
It wasn’t 30 years of hurt, was it? We’ve seen things they’ll never see, even in this 30-year drought of titles, after all. But an appreciation of the joys and journeys and moments between the 18th and 19th titles is not to say that the achievement of the 2019/20 season was not the holy grail for fans and players alike.
Klopp is quick to put last season’s title into another perspective: “Now it’s just another milestone in the history of this fantastic club.”
Just one of the 19 titles won by Liverpool Football Club, then, as Klopp looks to add more to the club’s history.
One to Add?
There are so many memorable moments, but perhaps one too often overlooked is the first.
On October 17th 2015, Liverpool FC played their first game under brand new manager, Jürgen Klopp. They played Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur in a game that finished with a sterile 0-0 scoreline, but in practice was anything but.
Even though he had just arrived in Merseyside, Klopp oversaw a match of incredible intensity in the press, which was so well-organized (and led by early leader of the Klopp project, Adam Lallana) viewers might be forgiven for thinking that the squad and manager had been together for some time. An clearly-defined gegenpress was set against Pochettino’s own high-press, and the quality of play was a breath of fresh air. From the moment it began, Klopp’s tenure showed promise.
Reflecting on it also shows how far we’ve come: gone are the days of frantic, heavy-metal, high-scoring (and conceding, bar Aston Villa’s showing at the weekend, let’s absolutely not talk about that) gegenpress; Klopp’s Reds are now more patient, calculating, organized — but still intense. Changed, too, are the personnel: of the XI from Klopp’s first match, only James Milner would start in the Champions League Final three years later. How promising was the start, and how far we have come.