We all know what the Cathedral der Klopp looks like today, but what went into its construction? Football Paradise reviews Raphael Honigstein’s Klopp: Bring The Noise. You’ll find the first part here.
From doubter to believer
Faith is a fluid word with an elusive meaning. It can take on many forms. But, like the American Supreme Court’s stance on pornography, you know it when you see it. When you see Klopp’s teams on the pitch, faith is readily apparent.
But a football game is more than just the 22 players between the lines and the generals in the technical areas. Specifically, Klopp proudly points to the fans and the atmosphere they create. Klopp: Bring The Noise shows how the manager has had a special relationship with the most passionate disciples of his clubs.
“You have to get the people onside at an emotional level. We
had to be one big unit…You have to make sure they take part in the success.
You can only do that with someone like Klopp.”
– Christian Heidel, Mainz CEO, Klopp: Bring the Noise
You may call Klopp a romantic. But he’s not the only one.
The German cares about the aesthetic his teams create and he cares deeply about the fans. From the beginning of his managerial career he’s firmly believed not only that fans can play a part in determining a result, but that they must help push the team on.
Perhaps that’s why he was able to stick at Mainz for seven years. Along with his personal love for the club, the fans truly cared – and Klopp helped incubate that emotion.
In his first days as manager, Klopp and Mainz CEO Christian Heidel understood that a club with the limited resources they had needed every edge they could get. They found one with the crowd.
Klopp never hesitated in legging the metaphorical extra mile, just as he expected his players to leg the literal extra mile. Regularly, Klopp would address fans in large public settings at Mainz with speeches and parties, but his relationship with them was more intimate than that. In 2004-05, Mainz’s first season in the Bundesliga, Klopp left Bayern fans aghast. After Mainz played the Bavarian giants, Munich fans spotted Klopp with supporters in the pub.
“He was always there, drinking with the 25 fans who had seen him score four goals at Erfurt. He didn’t want to change. That was him. And that was Mainz,” Honigstein wrote.
This sensation was only amplified at Dortmund. Klopp accentuated Borussia’s Yellow Wall, the special atmosphere that makes the groundhopper type of fan desperately desire to experience a match in it. He preached to his choir.
“It’s always about making the crowd happy,” Klopp said. “It’s about producing games with a recognisable style.”
Klopp enjoyed a close connection with the people who came together to form the menacing Yellow Wall.
One year, a Dortmund ultra by the name Jan-Henrik Gruszecki asked Klopp to auction off one of his hats to support a crowd-funded film about Franz Jacobi, Dortmund’s founding father. Klopp refused.
Klopp’s refusal was not because he didn’t want to help; quite the opposite, actually. “We can do better,” Klopp said. The manager then volunteered an entire day for a signing session, making €20,000 for the film.
That is Jurgen Klopp. He didn’t just stick close to the supporters on the pitch when he felt like he needed them. He continued off the pitch; his intentions genuine.
Once at Liverpool, Klopp wanted to ensure the crowd were a part of the club. He was preaching to his choir again, as only he could do best.
One game, Liverpool fought back to grab a late equaliser against West Brom at Anfield. It was a disappointing result, dropping points at home against West Brom, but Klopp had the team grab hands and salute the Kop after the final whistle. It wasn’t to go down perfectly with everyone, of course, but he wanted to recognise the crowd’s efforts in helping them secure a late point.
“It was the best atmosphere since I came here,” Klopp said. “Of course people are disappointed but they didn’t let us feel that.”
In the 2015/16 Europa League quarter finals, Klopp’s Liverpool were drawn against Borussia Dortmund.
Liverpool went down 3-1 on aggregate within ten minutes of the return leg at Anfield. Dortmund had the away goals, meaning Liverpool would have to score three to win. It seemed doomed, especially after Marco Reus scored Dortmund’s third goal on the day after Divock Origi gave the team hope in the second half.
It was now 4-2 on aggregate, with Liverpool still needing a treble of goals.
“He cooked up a storm on the touchline, he’s good like that,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said. “Using the power of the crowd against us was legitimate.”
With the crowd behind him, Liverpool scored that treble. That match still stands as the apotheosis of Klopp’s time at Liverpool thus far, with the promise of great times and silverware to come.
“It’s so great being Liverpool manager, I never thought I’d be here one day.”
– Jurgen Klopp, Klopp: Bring the Noise
By looking at the history of the Cathedral der Klopp, we can learn about future renovations at Liverpool. On October 8, 2015, the main colour scheme was shifted to red; though there certainly are enough splashes of yellow to remind us of his Dortmund past, as there are lighter shades of red for Mainz.
From that first day at Liverpool, Klopp begun the long overhaul of the club to truly be in his image. There was deadwood to clear out and foundational work to be brought in, but he had his pillars: Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Emre Can. Those pillars still stand today, next to Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and all others that support the structure.
At Dortmund, stars like Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan and Bender talk at length about Klopp’s style, how it takes some time for it to truly take hold. At Liverpool in 2018, Klopp’s team has taken shape. Make no mistake about it: this is Klopp’s team now.
But, the players admit that once you’ve been to the summit, it’s tough to keep as sharp as possible. And gegenpressing requires full participation. If Liverpool can’t capitalise on their optimal moments for trophies, beginning in 2018/19, the window can close mercilessly.
Players may leave, like at Dortmund. Even the ones that Klopp has the closest relationships with, like Mario Gotze, and just as easily as those described as an unemotional machine, like Robert Lewandowski. There isn’t a true Bayern-like shark in the Premier League that consistently rummages the best talent in the Premier League, but Manchester City’s money speaks for itself. Plus, as Liverpool have learned the hard way, the Spanish giants are the biggest threats to their prized jewels.
A Good Book
We can learn about the future by looking at the past. And there is no one better book to look at Klopp’s past than Raphael Honigstein’s Klopp: Bring the Noise.
“Motion and motivation have the same Latin root. One cannot exist without the other.”
– Raphael Honigstein, Klopp: Bring the Noise
As tour guide and chief historian, Honigstein was the perfect person to write the Klopp bible.
Honigstein didn’t cut too deep in the book, but it isn’t a PR puff piece, either. And, to be fair to Honigstein, how many people have come by Klopp without having a positive experience?
One of Klopp’s best features is the laughter he leaves in his wake. He makes people genuinely happy and there are more than a few interviewed in the book to give their personal testimony of just that.
Honigstein prose is fine, nothing special. But the beauty of his writing isn’t its complexity, but its simplicity. His words’ chief purpose is to form bridges to quotes from those who know Klopp best.
To extrapolate; Honigstein’s Klopp: Bring The Noise allows you to learn about Klopp from first-hand sources. One can’t even begin to estimate how much time went into interviews followed by sorting the information and finally organising it for the book, that doesn’t simply just go from birth to current days. The structure is terrific, and the research and reporting simply couldn’t be any more thorough.
The list of names Honigstein thanks for the interview time nearly eclipses a full page. Some of them didn’t even make the book, as best I could tell. He gathers quotes and information from names you wouldn’t have known, starting in his childhood with his sister Isolde providing that brilliant anecdote about Jurgen setting her free simply by being born; through Mainz, such as sporting director during the Klopp years Christian Heidel as well as Wolfgang Frank’s children; through Dortmund and Liverpool, with front office members that worked with the manager on a daily basis.
“I know he’s from the Black Forest, but to me, he’s a typical Scouser.”
– Jamie Carragher, Klopp: Bring the Noise
For Liverpool fans who enjoy reading, there are only a few plausible scenarios regarding “Bring the Noise: The Jurgen Klopp Story”: 1. You’ve read it. 2. You’ve already decided that you’re going to read it, but haven’t gotten it yet.
That’s it. It’s a no-brainer.
For the wider footballing community that enjoys reading, bar Manchester United and Everton fans, it’s still worth your time. The stories and relationships built are genuine. It’s relatable, yet incredibly unique. Such is the charm of Jurgen Klopp.
There aren’t any managers in football like Klopp. No one combines passion, ability and lasting relationships as he does. Many in the world have one, maybe even two of those. Few have the elusive trifecta, and none as naturally as Klopp.
“I’m ready for tomorrow, but only if it’s pretty much like yesterday.”
– Chuck Klostermann
Liverpool fans will pull vicarious smiles from the sections of the book detailing Dortmund’s Klopp-driven successes, because the similarities are all too clear. Kopites are ready for tomorrow, only if it’s like Klopp’s yesterday at Dortmund.
Read the book. Then, return for the next service at the Cathedral der Klopp with a greater appreciation of all you’re engulfed by. Hallelujah!