‘Enigmatic, charismatic and larger than life’ – Lineker meets Klopp

24 Aug

The Premier League Show


In the time I spent with him, Jurgen Klopp was enigmatic, larger than life and extremely quick-witted. He is quite unique as a football manager in many ways, and that is what makes him so entertaining.

He was great value in the in-depth interview I did with him for The Premier League Show (which you can see on BBC Two at 22:00 BST on Thursday night).

I met Jurgen in his office at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground and it was good to get to know him and get an insight into his thinking football-wise, and away from the game too.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gets to grips with England geography

We seem to be in an era where you don’t see really long interviews with a player or manager, just edited sound-bites lasting two or three minutes because there is a presumption that is all people want to see before they get bored and switch off.

In contrast, what we are trying to do with this new series is put together more considered pieces, each lasting around 12 minutes and almost like a mini-documentary.

So I will be doing a number of interviews like the one I have done with Klopp throughout the season, with a manager or player, or focusing on a specific club.

In the past I have worked on longer documentaries for the BBC with superstars like Diego Maradona and Ronaldo, which have taken months to put together.

These Premier League pieces will have a much quicker turnaround, but I still think it is enough to get some insight into the person I am spending time with.

It is a great time to be doing it, too, because there are so many big personalities in the Premier League now. We have some real stars here – managers and players – and I really hope that people find these interviews interesting.

Starting with Jurgen, I certainly did.

‘You can tell he is the kind of guy who gets the best out of people’

Jurgen Klopp and Gary Lineker<!–

Lineker met Klopp in his office at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground

Most top-level managers are pretty guarded but Jurgen was not just hugely charismatic when I spoke to him, he was also pretty honest and frank.

He spoke quite candidly to me about a lot of things and it was refreshing to meet a manager who is so open like that, especially someone who is ‘box office’ too.

His man-management skills are very interesting and it was great to get an insight from him into his thinking there, because you can tell he is the kind of guy that gets the best out of people.

He also explains his general ethos with his teams – not just the way he likes them to play, but the thinking behind that.

Klopp took charge at Liverpool in October 2015 and steered them to the League Cup final and Europa League final<!–

Klopp took charge at Liverpool in October 2015 and steered them to the League Cup final and Europa League final

One of the first things he said when he took the Liverpool job was that he had to turn people from doubters into believers – on the pitch and off it – and his personality is a big part of the reason that is happening.

Results have been a bit up and down and performances inconsistent, but I think you can see a progression and gradual morphing as this becomes his team.

That takes time for any manager, especially when you play in a different way to the previous incumbent, but I sensed when I was in the area that he has got the Liverpool fans behind him, and that comes across at games too.

From talking to him, I know he understands the history and traditions of the club and respects the achievements of its previous managers.

We saw at Borussia Dortmund, where he won two Bundesliga titles and took them to the Champions League final, that he is a terrific coach with a great record. If you put all that together, it is a great combination.

There will always be questions when Liverpool lose – like they did at Burnley on Saturday – and some supporters will always complain, but the general feeling is still that they are going in the right direction under Klopp.

I can understand why. He is a very funny man, with a great sense of humour, and clearly very intelligent as well.

Gary Lineker was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

No comments yet

Leave a Reply