Following the 2017-18 season, Borussia Dortmund were in the midst of a search for a new manager and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke reached out to Jürgen Klopp to see if the Liverpool manager would be open to the idea of returning to Germany.
According to Watzke, there was never any realistic expectation that Klopp would cut short his time in England, but he needed to know for certain—because if he was, there would have been only one man for the job at the Westfalenstadion.
“I knew that Jurgen would say no, that he would fulfil his contract in Liverpool,” Watzke said in his new book. “Jurgen has always fulfilled his contracts, but if you want to go new ways then at least I had to ask Jurgen if he could possibly imagine that.”
“I did not expect that at all, but I would not have forgiven myself for not asking him at that moment. The most important thing in our relationship was and is that we can rely on each other blindly. Jurgen never lied to me, and I never lied to him.”
Klopp, for his part, jokingly asked his former boss if he’d been drinking, and in the end Dortmund moved for Lucien Favre, bringing in the Swiss coach from Nice following a year when Peter Bosz and then Peter Stöger had failed to measure up.
And elsewhere in his book, Watzke admits that in retrospect it might have been better to change out the entire team, which appeared to have become stale, rather than allow Klopp to take the blame and depart following a difficult 2014-15 season.
“We did not try to change his mind, but that was maybe a mistake,” Watzke said of Klopp’s Dortmund departure. “Perhaps it would have been better if we had exchanged the entire team, because I knew that we would never get back such a coach.”