Borussia Dortmund parallels prove Jurgen Klopp had perfect dress rehearsal for Liverpool

Borussia Dortmund parallels prove Jurgen Klopp had perfect dress rehearsal for Liverpool
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Jurgen Klopp was made for Liverpool and Liverpool was made for Jurgen Klopp.

The German has been at Anfield for approaching five years now, and Liverpool fans will hope that he stays around longer than until the end of the 2023/24 season, when his contract is set to expire.

Under his guidance, the Reds have won every major trophy possible – or at least they will have soon after the Premier League resumes following its three-month delay.

The job Klopp has done to date has been rightly praised heavily, but there are three things which have made his task significantly easier.

All three were things that he had in place during his time with Borussia Dortmund, and all three he has replicated perfectly while on Merseyside.

Bond between fans, players and staff

As the manager of Borussia Dortmund, Klopp touched many people, and the scenes when he left were testament to the memories he created.

Klopp’s house in Dortmund, in front of former Liverpool man Nuri Sahin and next to the Dortmund’s Brazilian legend Dede, is number 13, meaningful to Dortmund supporters because it is the main ultras block, in the Südtribüne, the Dortmund Kop.

His enthusiastic and outgoing style of management is very much Klopp’s style now, and was even more so then. He is what Germans might call a ‘kumpelhaft’ – basically someone who comes across as friendly and ‘matey’ with everyone.

Klopp has been back in touch with those in Dortmund via video call during lockdown to celebrate the ninth anniversary of their first league title together, and he went back in person last year to promote chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke’s book.

Klopp remains very much a part of the furniture in the city of Dortmund and remains fond to the supporters of the football club.

Ben McFadyean, the president of the Borussia Dortmund fan club London, is a man who has followed Klopp’s journey closer than most.

Speaking on a special Blood Red podcast, he explained: “It’s really hard not to feel affection for Kloppo because he really is one of a kind.

“He comes from the south-west but he loves it in Dortmund – and he understands the mentality.

“The reason that a lot of top managers don’t fit in at Dortmund, much like Thomas Tuchel, who has done so well at PSG, is simply you either understand the people, or you don’t.

“It’s a bit like Merseyside I reckon: you understand the people, and they understand you, or they don’t and you don’t. If you don’t get it, you’re just not the right man.

“I think he understands Liverpool specifically because he really understood the working-class mentality in Dortmund.

“He’s not just an excellent football manager who has a very good eye for talented players, Klopp is an extraordinary human being.

“He embodied the spirit of Borussia Dortmund. What you see now, the passion, the love, the Yellow Wall, the commitment and the sense of unity, it was all embodied in that one person.

“The players he brought in, including quite a few from the local region, were players that the club really identified with.”

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Sporting direction

The relationship between Klopp and Michael Edwards is a strong one at Anfield, with the pair in complete agreement over transfer deals.

The trust between them and other members of the recruitment team, including chief scout Dave Fallows, is a crucial cornerstone of the way that the Reds are run.

The evidence for how well that team works together is simple: few, if any, signings in recent years can be considered flops.

And that system was exactly the same at Dortmund, even if the success rate was not as perfect at the Bundesliga side.

McFadyean explained: “The biggest strength that Kloppo had was that he had a really strong relationship with sporting director Michael Zorc and Aki Watzke, the chief executive.

“Between them, they had a plan and a vision and they were able to fulfil it.

“Dortmund is a selling club and they’ve never had vast amounts of money – when they’ve tried to make it happen with money, it hasn’t really worked.

“It has to be the Dortmund way, and Kloppo embodied that.”

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Training ground

Dortmund’s training facility has been continually revamped and expanded for a number of years and will not be fully completed until 2021, but it is understood that Klopp was crucial to driving that plan forward, just as he has been with Liverpool’s Kirkby expansion.

Once completed, Dortmund’s Brackel Training Ground will be the most advanced of any team in Germany.

Klopp understands the importance of getting the working environment right, and has never been fully satisfied with Liverpool’s Melwood facility.

The new training ground in Kirkby – an extensive to the existing Academy site – will fill all the club’s needs, with compromise not an option for the current FIFA Club World Cup champions.

It can reasonably be argued that these three factors – making supporters believe, getting recruitment right by trusting a sporting director and the backroom team, and investing in the training centre – are among the most important things Klopp has done at Liverpool.

And he understood the importance of each of them thanks to his trial run at Borussia Dortmund.

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