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Klopp and the Comeback Kids

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Since taking over a year ago, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool have shown an impressive never-say-die attitude.

Arsenal v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In mid-December last year, Liverpool faced off against West Brom at Anfield in a game the hosts were favored to win. As was so often the case, Liverpool struggled to break-down the well-drilled Tony Pulis side, finding themselves down 2-1 entering stoppage time. With time running out, Divock Origi unleashed a shot from outside the box. The shot took a kind deflection—wrongfooting the keeper in the process—and ended up in the back of the net to salvage a 2-2 draw.

"Maybe the crowd was disappointed but they didn't let us feel [it],” Jürgen Klopp explained after the mathc. “And that's the thing: we all were in the game, concentrated, we all wanted to get this one point at the end and it felt like three. In this moment, it was an explosion.”

"It was the best atmosphere since I have been here. I really enjoyed it and at the end -- I don't know if it's normal in England -- I wanted to say thank-you, that's all. Together with the team it was great, it was absolutely great."

As a way of saying “Thank you,” Herr Klopp went with the players and gave a curtain call to the Kop after earning the hard-fought point. Liverpool players, fans, and their quirky German manager were the butt of many jokes from rival fans that week for celebrating a come-from-behind point against a midtable side at home. But those rival fans failed to realize its significance, one that was not lost on the players nor fans (and certainly not on the manager).

No, Klopp was building mental resilience. This resilience had disappeared under the previous regime. If Liverpool conceded a goal, the atmosphere would be sucked out of the stadium. Fans and players alike would hang their heads and lose their cool.

Klopp has now been with the club for a year, pacing the sidelines for 61 games in all competitions. In 8 of those 61 matches, Liverpool have come from behind to win, including twice this season, both on the road against Arsenal and Swansea. Indeed, 6 of those 8 were on the road. In another 7 matches, including the one listed above, Liverpool came from behind to earn a draw. For a team that looked completely bereft of ideas when trailing under the previous regime, Klopp has done an incredible job at getting the lads to kick on when things aren’t going well (and just as importantly, for the fans to support them throughout).

Of course, it’s better not to concede early, but as Kloppo might say, “These things can happen.” It’s how the team and fans respond to diversity that true greatness can emerge.