Jurgen Klopp authored a masterclass in 2019-20, barely sounding an imperfect note as Liverpool mesmerized its fan base in winning the Premier League and delivering positive note after positive note through a pandemic-challenged community.
2020-21 has been a heavier lift, though, as injuries have flummoxed the Reds’ title defense and Klopp has often struggled to wrap his head around it.
So we should be careful in how we evaluate anything coming from the club’s mastermind, especially given his notable social conscience and the fact that Klopp — a terrific communicator anyway — is still putting his thoughts into a second language.
But Klopp’s “leave us alone and move on” comments about the European Super League prior to Liverpool – Newcastle on Saturday veered from the understandable to the unnecessary, even after owner John Henry’s apology made strides toward amending a lackluster first statement on the unforced error of the ESL idea.
“It hurt a lot because, yes, our owners made a mistake,” Klopp said. “They know it and all these kind of things but what I didn’t like in that moment was they went on us. We are just the faces of the club, just as our supporters had nothing to do with that obviously. We did not even have an idea. We didn’t know about it and that for me was really important that we don’t forget that. It was constantly mentioned… Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool Football Club. No it was not Liverpool Football Club. The representatives of Liverpool Football Club. You have to make a difference.”
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There’s not a ton wrong there. Equating the players with the fans is somewhat understandable, even with plenty of the riches paid to the former by the latter (and others).
But here’s where Klopp lets himself down. Again, part of this could be language-based as Klopp is known to use the bigger societal picture and may not be trying to ask fans to let the ESL mistake slide.
“I’ve seen the pictures the last few days, Arsenal and Chelsea, stuff like this,” Klopp said. “I really think you all have to calm down. Sky had three journalists sitting all the time and talking the whole day about it. It’s winding up football. We have to create other pictures. We’re still in a pandemic and people are out there without facemasks, just shouting out. All the pundits have to calm down as well a little bit. Yes, nobody wanted it, definitely, but now let’s deal with it and not constantly show we didn’t want it. It’s all clear with it. The people who made the decisions, they’ve learned their lessons. I’m 100 percent sure. So just relax a little bit. We have to carry on.”
Isn’t it a little early for “forgive and forget?” After all, Klopp would be managing a Super League side had the fans not been as vocal as they were in the immediate wake of a world-shifting ESL announcement.
It’s the facemasks part of his interview where the Liverpool genius loses me. Albeit a decent point independent of the story at hand, that’s where it starts to feel a little more like excuse-making rather than catering to the crowd.
No huge ally of the media this season, Klopp misses one big point and one massive one.
Letting this monumental error from the biggest clubs in the world slip quietly into the night enables a sort of anti-Anchorman “That de-escalated quickly” vibe to head into the boardrooms as the giants of football plot the next steps.
It also carries more than a bit of “Please don’t fine us too much or dock us points” as punishment is considered for the rebels.
Finally, can we be positive that anyone has “learned their lessons” about the big picture, rather than simply how they announced their plans to break away? Klopp clearly was trying to carefully choose his words in a trying time, but can we truly say that care paid off?