Klopp: The Master of the Collective

Posted on May 8, 2019

Football is a very partisan sport where it is natural to want to see rivals lose. The bigger the club, the more they are hated by their direct rivals or those in their shadow. That’s what makes it a great spectacle.

As I have got older, I have lost some of that partisan feeling but I love watching managers in action. Whether it is pantomime villains like Neil Warnock, paranoia experts such as Ferguson and Mourinho, or smarm merchants like Brendan Rodgers, who try to claim football is rocket science, it is all very intriguing.

What happened last night still seems ludicrous beyond even comic book stuff. Liverpool, torn apart by injuries, facing the prospect of finishing second in the league with 97 points (the 3rd highest tally in history) and 3-0 down against allegedly the world’s best team, were on their last legs. The tank was empty.

They had (24 hours before) seen Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany all but end their title dreams with a pulsating ‘Roy of the Rovers’ goal. They had injuries to star players, Firminio and Salah, and they had a 3-0 deficit to overcome. Not only that but a 3-0 deficit to, arguably, the best team in the world.

Inspiring the Impossible Dream

How does a manager of a deflated and depleted team on its last legs, rouse them one more time? How does he do that knowing that deep down, they are probably done for?

This is what Jurgen Klopp said.

“It’s impossible boys. But because it’s you, I say we have a chance”.

Utterly brilliant. By dangling the carrot of achieving the impossible ‘because it is you’ , Klopp set his players up. In that moment, he set the tone for collective willpower to overcome a team graced with individualism. He challenged his players to be as one and prove that nothing is beyond them.

What followed was a mesmerising night of drama. What makes sport and football in particular, so beautiful, is that there is no script. Not for the fans, not for the players. It is a time where spontaneity takes over and the story unfolds by the second. Everyone plays a part.

As a rival fan, It is okay to hate Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs or Manchester United; that’s what football is about and is what creates the atmosphere. However, if there was anyone out there who was not spellbound by what unfolded at Anfield last night, they surely don’t really get football at all. Games like this set it apart from any other sport in the world.

Perhaps the most ironic thing of all in this season where Liverpool and City have slugged it out from day one, is this. They could both end up winning the trophy the other club wants more. They would probably do a swap if they could.

Wonderful stuff.

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