Time to acknowledge Klopp the manager, not just the character

Jurgen Klopp is in something of a managerial limbo. The media latch onto his chortles, chuckles and expletives during his charismatic interviews, much to the dismay and annoyance of rival supporters, but continue to overlook his performances as a tactician and a coach.
Sam McGuire  |  24th May 2018

He’s the mastermind behind Liverpool’s adventure to the Champions League final, the man who put together the itinerary for the Reds’ trip across the continent. Yet there’s been next to no mention of instructions he’s sent his team out with to get the better of Porto, Manchester City and Roma.

The detailed gameplans pieced together are overlooked in order of the passion he shows on the touchline. Our friends at Football Whispers give the Reds boss some much-needed love ahead of Saturday’s final.

The Stuttgart-born boss hasn’t been lavished in praise like the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho would have been. His approachable vibe means he misses out on the respect he and his achievements deserve.

As revealed in a Football365 article recently, Klopp is only the second Premier League manager this decade to both finish in the top four and reach the Champions League final in the same season.

Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger have all failed to match the impressive feat. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, has called bingo on this particular card.

Firminour beliefs – Back Bobby Firmino to score two or more in normal time at 9/1 with RedsBet

Klopp’s 2017/18 campaign is even more impressive when broken down into sections.

Every single team suffers from injury issues from time to time but Liverpool have been without Adam Lallana, a key cog in the system during the 2016/17 season, for almost the entire campaign. The England international, who missed out on a place in the World Cup squad, has made just one start in the Premier League this season.

The Reds, and Klopp, haven’t been able to call upon a player who was involved in 18 goals last year. Other teams would struggle with such a loss. And he’s not the only one Liverpool have been without for a sustained period of time.

Joel Matip’s last appearance this season came at the end of March when he played 90 minutes in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. Likewise, Nathaniel Clyne, who would otherwise be a starter, has begun just two matches in the top flight this term.

Emre Can’s last outing came in the 5-0 win over Watford midway through March.

The German powerhouse is a Juventus transfer target and looks set to leave at the end of the season. That has soured his relationship with Reds fans but he’s been the starting midfielder for the past two years, playing an instrumental role in finishing fourth during the 2016/17 campaign and reaching the Europa League final in 2015/16.

He’s perhaps not everybody’s favourite right now but Klopp would’ve undoubtedly preferred to have him available for the business end of this season.

And that’s just the players who weren’t available. Others, instead, opted to leave the club. A certain Philippe Coutinho forced through a move to Barcelona during the winter transfer window. Liverpool held off on bringing in a replacement with Klopp firm in his belief that there’s no value for money in January.

The world’s second most expensive player left Anfield midway through the season and the Reds carried on with what they had when it would’ve been so easy to splurge the money they’d pocketed for the rebellious Brazilian.

Klopp’s hubris could have derailed the season. But it didn’t, and it shows he’s not just a master tactician. He’s also a great man manager

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Liverpool also failed to land their top two summer targets. They aggressively pursued Naby Keita but had to settle on a deal to see him join the revolution on Merseyside ahead of the 2018/19 season while they had to wait six months to finally strike a deal with Southampton to acquire the services of Virgil van Dijk.

The marked difference in the defence since the £75million man arrived can’t be overlooked and it’s left many wondering what might have been had he been here from August.

What Klopp’s achieved under these circumstances is nothing short of remarkable. Sooner or later the world is going to have to acknowledge him as a manager, rather than just as a quirky character on the touchline.

There’s so much more to him than passionate celebrations and sound bites from interviews.

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