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Hugs and Anger: The Jürgen Klopp Story

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According to James Milner, whether it’s hugs or anger, Liverpool’s manager is all about intensity.

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Liverpool v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

For most, when thinking of Jürgen Klopp as a manager on the sidelines, the images that come to mind are of celebrations and hugs. Of Klopp pumping his fist to the crowd or charging out to be mobbed by his players following a goal.

It’s never just been celebrations and hugs, though. Anyone watching has seen annoyance and anger; scowls and gritted teeth. It’s just that most like to focus on the former. James Milner, though, says both halves of Klopp are a part of his success as a manager.

“He likes to shout on the side of the field, he likes to be involved in the game,” Milner told the club’s official website. “Sometimes at half-time you’ll get a team-talk where he is angry but other times you might expect that and he doesn’t.

“I think it’s important as a manager that he can come from both ways. He obviously loves a hug as well—he’s got that side in him at the end of the game. As a manager, you need to know when to give the bear hug and when to give the boot up the backside.”

Hugs or boots up the backside, though, whichever way Klopp goes tends to have a common thread of intensity. And both sides of the Liverpool manager serve a similar purpose in trying to get his players to deliver that kind of intensity on the pitch.

It’s been like that since day one, according to Milner, though time and training has helped to hone and refine the players’ ability to deliver on that; to take Klopp’s intense joy and anger and translate it to a football pitch.

“His first game was Spurs away and the tempo of that game was ridiculous,” Milner added. “We played a pressing game under Brendan as well, but I remember the intensity and the tempo. It was so early in his reign.

“It’s a long way from what we do now [but] I remember, in the first few sessions, him trying to get that across.”