There has been reams of copy written this week in the build up to Liverpool v Manchester United about the two-year anniversary of Jurgen Klopp at Anfield – and whether it has been a successful reign so far.
There have been loads of statistics to fight both sides of the argument. Did you know that if Liverpool lose on Saturday, they will have taken 12 points from 8 games, the same tally that led to Brendan Rodgers being sacked?
And yet Klopp’s record in top six clashes since August 2016 puts Liverpool 8 points clear of nearest rivals Chelsea in that mini league that includes City, United, Spurs and Arsenal. And in 45 games in charge, Klopp has taken 88 points – exactly the same record as Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
There is a further negative – 54 goals conceded compared to Mourinho’s 31 – but you could say Liverpool offer better entertainment value. Obviously not right now!
However, the reason I think Klopp is not under pressure in the way Brendan Rodgers was, is more about communication, body language, demeanour, attitude, man management and a score of other soft skills that should never be taken for granted. Rodgers actually scores highly in a number of those and I am pleased he’s rebuilding his career at Celtic and still knows he came as close as anyone in this generation to win the league title.
But Klopp is passionate. He wears his heart on his sleeve, he talks analytically but he also talks as a fan. The supporters feel he is one of them.
Klopp is inspiring. Part of a manager’s role is to inspire his team, in whatever field they work, and players, fans, staff alike will tell you this man is charismatic, someone you want to do well for.
Klopp praises his team. So often the German will deflect any plaudits at his door and hand it on to the players and fans and staff. Only a strong manager can do this, someone comfortable in his own skin.
Klopp smiles. Never underestimate the value of a manager who looks like they love their job.
The effect of all these great qualities is that fans particularly, but players also, buy into his attitude and culture. They are drawn in and inspired in equal measure. They feed off his passion and enthusiasm.
Sitting in seventh place in the Premier League, seven points behind the two Manchesters, I get why the debate is happening. But Jurgen Klopp is not a man to be underestimated, already a giant among managers and one that a lot of fans would love to have as their own.
Pressure? What pressure|! Anfield expects.