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"Lord, I don't ask that I should win, but please, please don't let me finish behind Akabusi."

Innocent Egbunike's prayer at the 1988 Olympics

Jurgen Klopp

Return to the book list for titles beginning with 'J'.

The Biography, Elmar Neveling, London, Penguin Random House, 2016. ISBN 0781785033629

Jürgen Klopp was a journeyman player who developed into an outstanding coach and manager, seeming to make the transition effortlessly. He had great success with Borussia Dortmund while fielding the youngest team in their Bundesliga history, with an average age of just 22.

His teams play with a particular style. He seems to put more emphasis on what his teams do without the ball than with it because defending is much less dependent on the technical ability of the players and more on organization. “When we show our team spirit out on the pitch, if everyone does their job, then we can really cause the opposition problems”. At Dortmund Klopp and his assistants introduced a 4-4-2 because they believed that it is the most effective system to play without the ball. With regard to possession, he says: “What’s important is having dangerous possession”. Unlike most modern managers, Klopp is not a great fan of statistical analysis of games. The book describes his ideal goal, one scored by Dortmund with 6 players in rehearsed positions!

He a figure who fills a room as soon as he walks through the door. The books says that he inspires trust because he is always himself, always genuine. He doesn’t play a role. “He kicks every ball and feels the emotions just as intently as the man in the stands”. At the same time he is a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide “switching back and forth from a hearty, jocular, upstanding and easygoing coach, into a terrifying ‘monster’ manager”

He enjoys telling the story of when he was sent off: he asked the linesman how many mistakes he was allowed adding if it was fifteen, then he had one left.

Several people are quoted as saying that he was a perfect fit for Dortmund and that he will also fit Liverpool because Dortmund and Liverpool “have a similar orientation in their enthusiasm for football: people sense immediately that football is like a religion for them”.

He is a man of faith in some sense. In the press conference afterwards, Klopp declared: “I don’t believe in a football god, only in God. I believe that everything that happens in life has meaning. Someday, I’ll find out what today really meant.”

An excellent book about a man who transformed German club football and could have an equally big impact in England.



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