Jurgen Klopp

Stop the transfer train because I want to get off

In the early hours of Wednesday morning I tuned into the ‘Premier League Asia Trophy Preview’ while whittling my way through a packed Sky+ planner.

Said programme was an interview hosted by Sky Sports presenter David Jones, who spoke to four managers: Frank de Boer, Tony Pulis, Craig Shakespeare and Jurgen Klopp, as the title suggests, previewing the forthcoming pre-season tournament, the Asia Trophy.

Maybe watching such a show at the barbaric hour of 3am had the effect, but it seemed like I was in a world where all control had been lost, or maybe this was just an all-too-accurate reflection of Planet Transfer Market once the activity of Crystal Palace, West Brom, Leicester City and Liverpool was discussed.

Unlike in the eyes of most others though, the main issue is not necessarily people like Kyle Walker commanding circa £50 million fees – that is just the price you pay for mega-bucks television deals and English players, especially half-decent ones, being so few and far between.

No. What the real problem is, is the tremendous titillation of it all.

Presenter Jones, who emphasised the word ‘transfers’ in his introduction to the segment with so much vigour that it seemed Tourette-like, was, to be fair to him, just doing his job as the Sky Sports mouthpiece to what has long-been the entertainment within the entertainment.

In what is a ‘Chicken and Egg’ scenario, there is an issue football has now where the amount of people interested in the 90 minutes is decreasing while the hullabaloo before and after it seems to be sky-rocketing. Any print media journalist asked the difference in readership figures between the match report and the ‘Player X linked to Club Y’ story will tell you that.

How could you not be excited when, in the words of Jones, “all managers are battling the transfer spending, which is hitting new levels”?

The managers themselves are not getting caught up in it though. Pulis labelled it “ridiculous”, de Boer “crazy” and Shakespeare admitted he “doesn’t really like it, but you have to accept it.”

Klopp, who previously quipped Germany is still normal with players still moving clubs for fees such as £5 million and £7 million, put it better than anybody else, however.

When asked if he was planning any more incomings for the Liverpool fans with “baited breath” (again, a phrase fired from Jones’ mouth like a bullet out of a gun), he responded: “Look. There’s nothing I could say that could help.

“We are interested in a lot of players around the world, but at the moment I’m working with the squad I have. With all respect, that’s my job in the first place.

“If I go into training and think: Oh my God, still them? That’s not okay, but that’s the first part of the job – nobody thinks about improvement and development of the players you have.”

The crux of the matter though is why is nobody thinking about improvement and development? Is it all just too dull?

There is no flashy ‘totaliser’ for every player a manager improves instead of buying, there is no bold yellow strap at the bottom of a screen when an 18-year-old gets his first start and there is certainly no all-day event that some joke should be a national holiday quite like the perpetual damp squib that is Transfer Deadline Day.

Maybe it is time to get off the transfer train, maybe we missed our stop a long time ago, and, if so, maybe we are approaching the end of the line, we just need to hope we are not going completely off the rails.

 

 

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Why Jurgen Klopp is a perfect fit for Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s long-awaited appointment as Liverpool manager sparked mass excitement among Reds fans all over – and rightly so – he is a perfect fit for the club.

A quote by Klopp back in September that stated he would probably not end his sabbatical from management for a “top club” has been resurfaced by fans mocking Liverpool’s fall from grace but Klopp also said he would rather work on an exciting “project”.

Despite jibes, five-time European Cup winners Liverpool are still a big club, huge in fact, but restoring a team who has not won a top flight title in 25 years to contenders again is without doubt the “project” that tugs on Klopp’s heartstrings.

“The intensity of the football, how the fans live football in Liverpool, around Liverpool and all over the world (attracted him the club).

“It’s not a normal club. It’s a special club. I had two special clubs in Mainz and Borussia Dortmund and this is the perfect next step for me”.

The German also joked in a mesmeric first press conference that if he has not guided Liverpool to at least one title over the course of his four-year contract, he will move to Switzerland.

Chief Executive Ian Ayre was openly delighted with his new man saying:

“When we started the search (for a new manager), it was important that we found somebody that we thought could bring success to the club. It was important we could find someone who could take on the size, the might and the ambition of the club and Jurgen certainly ticks those boxes”.

A sign of progress: Klopp's appointment could be the start of big things for Liverpool

A sign of progress: Klopp’s appointment could be the start of big things for Liverpool

The size of the project will not daunt Klopp in the slightest. His transformation of Borussia Dortmund into a European heavyweight for a brief period is not to be understated

Dortmund would have gone out of business in 2003 had it not been for a 2 million Euro loan from Bayern Munich and they came close to bankruptcy again in 2005.

Klopp was appointed at Signal Iduna Park in 2008 off the back of a season in which Dortmund almost got relegated but nevertheless qualified for the Europa League as they got to the DFB-Pokal final (a 2-1 loss against Bayern).

Just two years later, Klopp guided them to fifth and the following season they were champions and the year after that they were defending champions – with a then record of 81 points. Dortmund also claimed the DFB-Pokal (German FA Cup) in a famous double winning year.

They lost their title in what was ultimately a cruel 2012-13 campaign as they finished second to Bayern in the league, the Supercup and the Champions League, but it was no doubt a tremendous achievement nonetheless. Dortmund finished second again in 2013-14 before the slump last season that ended in them finishing seventh and Klopp’s famous tenure ending via resignation.

Under Klopp, Liverpool should also become a lot wiser in the transfer market. The club currently work with a transfer committee, which includes the manager, where the group work on who the club should sign.

During Brendan Rodgers’ three-year spell in charge, Liverpool spent just over £210 million and only Daniel Sturridge (£15 million), Phillippe Coutinho (£8.5 million), Simon Mignolet (£9 million) and Mamadou Sakho (£15 million) could be described as relatively successful buys.

Most notable flops include Fabio Borini (£10 million), Joe Allen (£15 million), Luis Alberto (£6.8 million), Iago Aspas (£7 million), Dejan Lovren (£20 million), Lazar Markovic (also £20 million) and the infamous Mario Balotelli (£16 million).

Of that not-so-secret seven, only two (Allen and Lovren) are currently part of the first team squad while Alberto, Markovic and Balotelli have been loaned out to Deportivo, Fenerbache and AC Milan respectively and Borini and Aspas have been sold to the likes of Sunderland and Sevilla.

Klopp is likely to be more astute. At Mainz and Dortmund he has picked up a reputation of signing unwanted or underrated players on the cheap and moulding them into some of the finest talents in the modern game.

Mats Hummels was acquired for Dortmund from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich for just 4 million Euros, Ilkay Gundogan joined for the same fee from FC Nurnburg and Shinji Kagawa initially moved to the Black and Yellows from native Japanese outfit Cerezo Osaka for a modest 350,000 thousand Euros.

Klopp for the Kop: Could domestic silverware be coming to Anfield soon?

Klopp for the Kop: Could domestic silverware be coming to Anfield soon?

His finest achievements though are the players that left his Dortmund for arch-rivals Bayern.

Mario Gotze, scorer of the goal that won Germany the World Cup last summer, is a product of the BVB youth system and was given his first-team debut by Klopp. Robert Lewandowski, currently on a scoring streak of 15 goals in six games, also became a household name under Liverpool’s new boss after he was prized from Lech Poznan for just 4.5 million Euros.

With the mercurial Klopp at the helm, Liverpool could and should be wiser in the transfer market if the boss is given control and the esteemed youth academy could be used to good effect once again to produce the next Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher that the Merseyside club are crying out for.

What is arguably most important though, as the reaction to his unveiling proved, Klopp has the power, the prestige and presence to unite Liverpool supporters and give them a reason to shout once more.

Rodgers’ appointment led to mixed views, from the young exciting coach who transformed Swansea and to do the same for Liverpool to take them to the next level, to the manager who was inexperienced with a big club and only had a Championship play-off final trophy to his name.

Klopp however has got lips moving, hearts racing and fingers tapping excitedly on keyboards at the prospect of Liverpool becoming great again, to be feared again, and more importantly respected again.

“Liverpool think they’re a big club, but the real big clubs are not too worried about them, who they buy, what they are going to do”, according to Carragher, but now they have Klopp, that might just change.