After spending the season in MLS with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Steven Gerrard returned to Liverpool for the offseason. Six months earlier, he had left a Liverpool side struggling to find an identity under Brendan Rodgers. Now, there was a new manager in charge and dominating the headlines, and Gerrard was eager to meet him.
After the requisite round of rumour and speculation—would he return on loan or take on a mentoring role at Anfield or would he just do a bit of offseason training at Melwood—Gerrard returned to his boyhood club to train. And to meet Jürgen Klopp, one of the biggest names in management over the past decade and as big a star in his own right as Gerrard had been.
"My impressions from the outside were that I loved him," said Liverpool’s former captain. "I loved how charismatic he was on camera, I loved his tactics, and I always appreciated Borussia Dortmund, who I watched quite closely in the Champions League. So I was huge fan anyway. But now that I have met him and worked with him, it has gone up a notch.
"I had coffee with him and when I came out of the room I just felt happy. I felt taller. And I am not one of the players so I can only imagine what he has done to those players in the dressing room. The atmosphere at the club is brilliant. The players are buzzing around the training ground and there are smiles all over the place. I think he has lifted the whole place."
The results of Klopp’s arrival have been clear to see on the pitch in the form of a more confident, harder working side. The results haven’t been perfect, but signs of growth have been clear. After more than a year of aimlessly flitting from one approach to the next and generally looking quite poor regardless, Liverpool have begun to find an identity.
And that identity is a direct reflection of their new manager’s embrace of positivity and hard work. It’s not just a smile and a hug getting Liverpool back on track, though. There’s also the matter of tactics, the discussions of which have left Gerrard even more impressed in the time he’s spent training with Klopp and assistant manager Peter Krawietz over the past month.
"I love the way he handles players individually," added Gerrard. "I love the way he handles his team and I am all over his tactics. I’m watching him on the outside but I also get to work with him so it’s a brilliant experience for me—as a Liverpool supporter, an ex-player, a pundit, and also for my future as well. I am loving it."