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You Spend the First Five Years Trying to Get With the Plan

The president of Liverpool’s New York supporter’s club reflects on the departure of Jürgen Klopp and the unlikely role a public figure he’ll never meet played in his life.

Liverpool Training Session Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

“And to tell the truth
Oh, this could be the last time”
All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem

The loss of a man who can make a set of players far greater than the sum of its parts is a huge loss. Generational managers do not just come and go. Does this doom his successor to failure? Absolutely not. Jurgen Klopp has left us in a good position. The squad is rejuvenated with talent everywhere. This thought is tangential to what the man means to many of us.

My Liverpool supporting origin came in 2004. I fell in love with the team that won against Olympiakos. Was I chasing glory? No. I was chasing a journey, chasing life, chasing possibility and chasing hope. If I wanted glory, there were other avenues, the next decade plus proved that.

Enter Jurgen Klopp.

At his introductory press conference, Jurgen talked about turning “doubters into believers”. I don’t think that’s entirely true. I think what he did for us was a lot more powerful, he made us all feel that we’re not alone, that we’re all part of something. That we weren’t individuals with individual purpose, but that we’re all in “this” together. The “this” I speak of is simply the possibility that dreams can happen in reality. That together we will always be bigger than just one of us. That shared joy is the only joy that matters.

Jurgen came into my life at a time of possibility. I’d just started a new relationship and the honeymoon phase with both was simultaneous. I was interested in exploring my relationship with a football manager I mostly saw on TV and my relationship with my wife.

Pretty quickly into both, I knew they were the one. They gave me that feeling of sharing joy... that feeling that we could do anything together. We saw that setbacks were just opportunities to grow together, that there was no such thing as failure but that there was a beauty in trying. When you know you’re made for something, you should jump into it, embrace it and love it. I’m not sure that I’d fully appreciate that without Jurgen Klopp.

There were setbacks on the way, each setback came with renewal. We made it to a European final in his first season and lost, it didn’t matter, we made it back to Europe’s top table the next year. We lost in Europe’s showpiece game in Kiev (my wife and I got married on this day), it didn’t matter, we won number 6 a mere 12 months later. We lost the league by a point, it didn’t matter, we won it the next year. We fell apart, it didn’t matter, we’re top of the fucking pile and have a wonderfully rebuild squad filled with exceptional talents and exceptional characters.

Sometimes the setbacks were big. A month before the league resumed in 2020, my wife and I experienced the heartbreak of a miscarriage. Going from what you think is going to be the happiest event of your life to the gravity of that kind of loss is something that I am still processing to this day. Being unable to be with friends and family at that time made it harder.

Jurgen Klopp though, a man I’ll likely never meet, is my friend and helped me. He didn’t help me by winning the league, he helped me by teaching me that setbacks aren’t defining. Some people call that being a winner, I just think it’s being a decent person.

And that’s what it is, Jurgen isn’t a manager to us, he’s a friend. He makes us believe in ourselves. That’s what any good friend does.

We might beat Chelsea, we might not. It matters as much as it doesn’t matter, just so long as I could see all my friends tonight.

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