Perhaps, the ‘success’ of a football manger at a club could be determined by the the level of media speculation that tips his departure, once his team hit a rough patch or are on an extended run of uninspiring performances! Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City, and Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool stand as an example to this rule, JA?rgen Klopp at Dortmund, however, stands out as an exception.
Klopp is a manager who has symbolized Borussia Dortmund as much as the club symbolized him. While creating a version of playing football – high on tempo and technique – rarely seen before, he has elevated himself to a cult status enjoyed by the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
The fairy tale which started back in 2008 could have had different cast if the men in-charge of Hamburg SV had not dismissed the then manager of Mainz on the basis of his scruffy appearance in a critical dossier. A few months later Dortmund approached Klopp and since then his team has not only won two Bundesliga titles but also the hearts and minds of millions of fans, by the sheer force of his personality and the kind of relentless pressing game he demands from his players.
Klopp has transformed Dortmund from a 90sa has-been team into a European giant in less than five years. In the same time, Hamburg has changed more about a dozen managers since their initial approach of Klopp. What made the manager so popular was his approach to tackle the conventional and mold his team into something the neutrals could relate to.
Ita s not only the titles that won the hearts but it was also how the titles were won. The verve and energy that his team brought to the game along with the atmosphere at the Signal Iduna Park, what one had, was an intoxicating combination of liveliness on the pitch and in the ground in form of the famed Yellow Wall. Even when the team lost players such as Mario G tze, Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski the yellow machine continued to play attractive football and remained relatable, mainly due to personality of their head coach even if the talent available was not up to the expected grade.
Like Jose Mourinho, Klopp too is an astute man manager who is able to get the most out of his players but where he differs from the a Special Onea is with his ingenuity while dealing with failures; he doesna t claim of conspiracy theories against his team or stops talking to press when the things are not going his way.
In fact, he even outdoes Mourinho in matters of press relations with his blunt and intelligent comments which makes him a darling of the press. But ita s not just the press on whom he held a spell – when the infamous announcement of Mario G tzea s impending transfer was made public by Bayern Munich, Klopp appealed the Dortmund fans not to voice their discontent and the managera s wish was ‘respected’.
Big things were expected at the beginning of the current season at Dortmund, especially with Shinji Kagawa returning to the club after his horrid spell at Manchester United. No one batted an eyelid when the team’s form slumped at the beginning of the season due to ‘World Cup fatigue’, however as the defeats kept piling on, eventually Klopp’s coaching methods were questioned. With rival teams starting to copy the high pressing methods of Dortmund along with the injuries to key personnel, Dortmund’s season slipped to the bottom of Bundesliga .
However JA?rgen Klopp’s team have proved its critics wrong, while steadily climbing the table after the beginning of the second half of the season. The flashes of old can again be seen and it goes on to show that the the manager still holds his talisman and still has the hunger and ambition to challenge his critics.
When Klopp announced his intention to step down at the end of the current season it sent shockwaves through the football world. The most exciting football project in Europe was coming to an end after seven years. Even if the season may not yield any silverware one cannot but look back at Kloppa s achievements and marvel at things he has done for the club. He gave Dortmund a face and briefly became the leader of the ship which changed the way football was played in Europe. Klopp has played a major role in destroying tiki-taka way of football and replaced it with energetic, risky, fast passing game. Bayern Munich have copied elements of it and applied it to devastating effect.
While Klopp does claim that he doesn’t need a sabbatical and is a 0.00%a tired, it does not escape someonea s attention that seven years of building a team and trying to keep up with Bayern Munich have taken a toll on him especially with Bayern Munich cherry picking Dortmunda s best players each year.
It would have been tempting to start in a new country with new set of players and in a league where no one or two teams are miles ahead of the competition which sounds a lot like the English Premier League. From here on things would be different. There might not be any connection with the fans, the norm breaking and tactical experimentation would not always be welcome, there wona t be any legacy and once the defeats start the same fans who would initially adore him would turn on him without one momenta s hesitation. He would want to cherish all the things he achieved at Dortmund.