Following impressive displays in 1-1 draws against Spurs and Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool's progress under Jurgen Klopp has been as tangible as it has been at any stage since his appointment six months ago.
Hell, Klopp has even introduced Robbie Savage to a little thing called humility. German football journalist Raphael Honigstein has written a great piece for the Red Bulletin delving into the ten secrets behind Jurgen Klopp's success at Borussia Dortmund. The piece has come in two parts: the first part is accessible here, while you can read the second post here.
One of the characteristics that sets Klopp apart is his ability to remain calm in a crisis. Honigstein highlights this example at Dortmund:
When, one New Year’s Eve, Klopp caught one of his players with a large bottle of vodka on the table, he merely smiled at him, told him to have a good evening, and carried on as if he had seen nothing. This way, he creates a bond between himself and his players and strengthens their sense of loyalty.
This is an approach totally inimical with the policy taken by many GAA coaches, who ban all consumption of alcohol for months in advance of a game. Any player who is caught breaching these bans - and we are sure many of you have because, you know, you are human beings - are cast out of the squad like sin in a Catholic household, matched with the same mixture of horror, disappointment, and disbelief. Imagine if your GAA coach found a supposedly committed player drinking a bottle of vodka halfway through a season. There would be ructions.
Not so with Klopp. This is not to say that Klopp encourages the guzzling of vodka - and we assume the bottle was something classy, like Smirnoff, rather than Tesco's Finest or Rachmaninoff (an Aldi version bizarrely named after a composer that we hope you are unfamiliar with) - but he recognises that players occasionally need to let their hair down, or alternatively, whatever Martin Skrtel calls the pursuit of leisure.
Elsewhere, the piece profiles Klopp's obsessive desire to win, and then goes about showing you how he achieved that at Borussia Dortmund. Among the things he did was to force each of his players at Dortmund sign a pledge ensuring they give the following: unconditional commitment; passionate obsession; determination, regardless of how the game is going; a preparedness to support everyone; a willingness to seek help; a commitment to contribute 100 per cent effort for the good of the team, and the assumption of personal responsibility.
He is also relentlessly positive, Honigstein writes that:
Klopp’s credo is that you can’t go on at players about all the things they can’t do. Instead, you have to think they’re capable of improving and developing. “That way, he’ll have faith – first in me and then in himself".
This is a series change in psychology for the Liverpool players who played under Brendan Rodgers. The previous manager used quite negative reinforcement to motivate his players, writing the names of three players whom he expected to disappoint him in envelopes at the beginning of the season.
We can't imagine Klopp entertaining such a notion.
See Also: Mario Balotelli Proved Last Night He Can Only Remain Relevant By Displaying Rank Stupidity