From the moment he arrived at Anfield, the former Borussia Dortmund boss knew that energy and passion would be the attributes needed to make the most of a unique sporting institution that has always thrived on big hearts.
Despite Klopp’s roots in the Black Forest, the alliance always seemed like a natural fit, but the manager who faced ridicule for coaxing his players to tie their arms and salute the Kop after taking a single point at home against West Bromwich Albion early in his reign is much more than just a cheerleader.
Besides leading Liverpool to their sixth European Cup, Klopp was of course the man who ended this great modern-day anomaly by ending the longest drought in club history and a first league championship in 30 years.
But even the best coaches have lean times, and it’s the way you bounce back from adversity that siphons real leaders from men.
For the second time in three years, Zinedine Zidane has stepped down as Real Madrid coach even before the end of May.
Of course, the first time came the day after his team’s 3-1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final.
At the time, it was Klopp’s sixth straight loss in a cup final and some may have wondered if he was ever going to get rid of this monkey.
The following season he had put it all to bed and even now, 36 months later and having completed one of the toughest campaigns of his stellar career, he’s still smiling – as in fact he was a few hours away. barely after the game in Kiev when he was filmed singing with fans.
Zidane, on the other hand, remains a coaching conundrum.
Along with one of Klopp’s predecessors, Liverpool legend Bob Paisley, he is one of only two men to have won three European Cups at the same club – through Stanley Park, Carlo Ancelotti also has a hat-trick of wins but two were with AC Milan before his third book “La Decima” for Real Madrid.
Despite this gleaming resume that would stand up to Tommy Smith-esque’s most rigorous “Show Us Your Medals” scrutiny, none of us are too sure about the quality of a Zidane coach.
Unlike Klopp, who admitted, “I had Fourth Division feet and a Premier League lead” in his own career on the pitch, as a player, Zidane was a world-class phenomenon and that will have brought him a instant respect in the Galacticos locker room. at Real Madrid.
Yet how many of those superstars among Los Blancos’ ranks have actually improved under his leadership?
The contrast is stark with the many team members Klopp has fashioned into ‘monsters of mind’ on the fields of Melwood.
Former Chelsea flop Mohamed Salah has crossed the 20-goal mark for four consecutive seasons; Andy Robertson, snatched from relegation from Hull City, has become one of Europe’s main left-backs; Fabinho; Jordan Henderson; Trent Alexander-Arnold; even Sadio Mane who ended one of his most frustrating campaigns with a brace, the list goes on.
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In what state did Zidane leave the most successful club on the continent?
They say they never go back (a timely word of warning for Mauricio Pochettino) and without more European Cups in the trophy cabinet – still the barometer of success in this hottest of harnesses – the second fate of the Frenchman no. ‘has not reached the peaks of the first.
Stung in La Liga by their neighbors Atletico, for the very first time, Real will not contribute a single player for Spain to an international tournament – and it is even with enlarged squads at the European Championships this year. summer.
Plumes of black smoke billowing from the Bernabeu on the eve of Zidane’s departure as stadium redevelopment work continues were symbolic of the fire sale of assets that Real hope to unload in the next transfer window as they move forward. ‘they’re looking to reorganize an aging game staff they’ve expanded into the assembly too much.
Sergio Ramos; Nacho; Edenic danger; Toni Kroos; Karim Benzema ; Luka Modric; Marcelo and Gareth Bale returning from his loan spell at Tottenham Hotspur with his deemed salary of £ 600,000 a week are all now on the wrong side of 30, posing the dilemma of refreshing the legendary Liverpool front three who will all turn 29 on start of next season in perspective.
Real Madrid and Liverpool are the only two clubs regularly linked with a move for Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain and you can see why the Spaniards are so desperate to land a talent with such young vigor, but how they could fund a such an enterprise remains a problem. huge question mark.
The fact that they allowed all of their biggest names to grow old together is a damning accusation of Real’s strategy – or lack thereof.
Back in 2019, Phil Ball, author of Morbo: The history of Spanish football and White Storm : 100 ans du Real Madrid , told ECHO: “Despite all their success, Real are a badly run club with too much money and not a lot of sense.
“Despite everything they have going for them, Real are still such a mess. “
It was a pre-global pandemic. Now Real faces a drastically different financial landscape and funds have dried up.
This is probably why they have become, along with their bitter rivals Barcelona and Italy’s most successful club Juventus, outcasts within the football community by remaining determined to milk the potential cash cow that a club private private could bring them. , long after other would-be rebels, including Liverpool, turned around and apologized amid a disgusted public outcry.
Ironically, it was the threat of separatist competition, which seemed willing to let the rest of the game fade and die, that briefly saw Klopp, who has never hidden his opposition to such proposals, become the bookmakers’ favorite. to be next. The Premier League manager is stepping down.
However, he weathered that storm – despite being the first among his peers to confront the media about it – and along with his staff, players and fans, he received a public apology from the main club owner, John Henry for the misguided adventure.
On the pitch, the Liverpool manager was also able to perform another miracle during the clash.
Recovering from a truly gloomy winter environment that saw the Reds’ hopes of winning back-to-back titles for the first time since 1984 shattered by Fortress Anfield, a citadel that hasn’t stormed for 68 Premier games League, witnessing a club record six straight home defeats, Klopp managed to turn the tide with his injury-ravaged side.
Zidane’s loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals has kept Liverpool focused over the past two months. Last 10 games and winning the last five.
In many ways, given the pitfalls that presented themselves to him, this could be considered Klopp’s greatest managerial achievement, but he always saw the big picture.
Bayern Munich and Germany have both changed coaches this year, but the Reds boss has never been in contention for either position.
Even before the ink was dry on this new contract signed in December 2019 which keeps him linked to the club until the summer of 2024, when he will be in charge for almost nine years, Klopp did not hesitate. when his Anfield tenure will end.
Until then, he will have many steps in mind of how he wants to develop the team.
Real Madrid have secured a pair of victories over Klopp’s Liverpool in 2018 and this year, but such stability, continuity and strategy are virtues their coaches can only dream of.