It’s all smiles at Liverpool. The new manager wears one comfortably. The fans are smiling. Even the press were grinning from ear to ear as Jurgen Klopp held his first press conference as the new manager of Liverpool.
A £15 million pound, three year contract was agreed on Thursday night. Discussions had been ongoing for weeks. Although one member of the Liverpool board had first favoured hiring Carlo Ancelotti, the powers that be came to the conclusion that Klopp was a better fit for Liverpool.
There was love all around at his first press conference on Friday morning. He had the press eating from the palm of his hand. I wonder how long that love affair will last. For the record Klopp does have a temper, and has been known to aim that at football journalists in the past. But, for now at least, all is sweetness and light between the former manager of Borussia Dortmund and the men and women whose words fill the back pages.
Jurgen Klopp said: “This morning I woke up and I was the manager of Liverpool FC. I want to work with the team. Of course, it feels a little surreal now but I am prepared for this because of my experience.
“It’s not so important what people think when you come in. It’s much more important what people think when you leave. Please give us time. If we want this could be a really special day, if we’re prepared to work for it and if we are patient.
“When I sit here in four years I think we will have won one title. If not my next one may be in Switzerland.”
He continued: “It’s the biggest honour I can imagine. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. I will try to help the club, but it is not as difficult as many people in the room here think. I was attracted by the intensity of the football and the fans. It’s perfect to be here.
“Five or six clubs in the Premier League can win the league. It’s a problem. We have to start. It is only important that we play our own game and play with confidence and earn the trust of the people. It’s really important that the players feel it, that they can reach the expectations of the other clubs.
“We have to change from doubter to believer. Stop thinking about money. Only think about football.”
It had been thought that Klopp would insist on being the only man to decide who the club buys and sells. I had hoped Liverpool would ditch the transfer by committee process. But in reply to one question, Klopp said: “I’m not a genius. I don’t know more than the rest of the world. I need these other people.”
Liverpool fans have been accused of living in their glorious past. Who can blame them? For too long they have been short changed and had to watch several players who simply were not fit to wear the red shirt. But Klopp wants all at the club to concentrate on the future, not the past.
He said: “It’s very important not to be weighed down by history. Let’s not always compare with other times. This is a great club with good potential with players who are flexible. Let’s try to start a new way. Now everything is diferent. Here is a German guy, for the first time. I want to listen. I go to Melwood and I look at what works and what doesn’t work. And then we start to play very emotional football. We cannot change the rules of the game. We have to work together and feel if the team has some problems or not.”
Klopp had the press laughing when he was asked whether he knows how popular he is in England. Jose Mourinho had labelled himself the ‘Special One.’ How would Klopp compare himself. He smiled and said…
“I’m just a normal guy. I am the normal one. I am just an average guy from the Black Forest who was an average player.”
In years past I attended many a new manager press conference. As did my friend, the award winning author and sports journalist Mike Calvin. He watched the love fuelled press conference and said on Twitter: “Klopp is identifying so many G spots he should be a relationship counsellor.”
So everyone at Anfield is happy and the press have a man who will guarantee them good copy rather than unfathomable quotes.
Liverpool got the man they wanted. I hope it works out well for the supporters who are long overdue some success. As for the love-in between the press and Klopp today, enjoy it while it lasts. Anyone who has seen the other side of the new manager will confirm he can turn off the charm and grow angry when riled.
If results are good (and I fancy they will beat Tottenham in his first match), then the mutual love between the sportswriters and Jurgen Klopp will continue.
Right now the Liverpool fans are excited that they can look forward to some attacking, free flowing, passing football. I am happy for them.
All Jurgen Klopp has to do now is clear out the inadequate players, bring in some of his own and live up to his ambition of winning a title in the next three years. Not much to ask!
Do that and they will be loving Klopp on the Kop for years to come.