SO what’s it all about, Jurgen? The march by Klopp and the Liverpool players towards supporters after a 2-2- draw with West Brom at the weekend was widely derided.
Liverpool celebrating a draw at home? The one-time kings of Europe taking a bow after snatching a point with an equalisers that was so last-gasp it carried an inhaler? Surely this was an insult to the history of the great club, a gesture that managers from Shankly to Souness to Dalglish would have condemned?
This misses the point with all the accuracy of Peter Van Vossen with an open goal. One has to know the history of Klopp and, particularly, his relationship with the Borussia Dortmund fans to appreciate the purpose of the move. Klopp wants to create an atmosphere where fans, players and manager can feel they are all in it together. He did this to extraordinary effect at Dortmund.
Players would even head for The Yellow Wall at the Westfalenstadion after a defeat. There were times when players stood and explained or apologised for a poor performance to those standing next to the park. I watched Klopp head towards the supporters after Dortmund had lose at the German cup final to Wolfsburg in Berlin this year. He was not taking applause- though it was his last game at the club and the fans were vocal in articulating their gratitude – but he was saying that he was prepared to face them in defeat as well as victory. He was one of them. They were part of Dortmund.
Klopp, is an innovative and assured coach, but his best trait is his ability to motivate a team and to galvanise an entire club. He was perfect for Dortmund. They have one of the best, most passionate supports in the world (head to YouTube and watch them singing Jingle Bells). He wants to do the same at Liverpool.
Klopp is a football man. He has more than idea of the heritage at Liverpool. He knows that the support must be brought on board after years of decline and sometimes startling underachievement.
The march toward the Kop on Sunday was not a piece of misguided theatre. It was a premeditated step to a future when Liverpool stands together – players, manager and fans. The victory celebrations will then surely come.
By Hugh MacDonald