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Sunday, September 4, 2022 – Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp has provided a rare insight into his management off the pitch, revealing how he deals with difficult players and how his Christian values define his principles.
Liverpool are preparing for the Merseyside Derby on Saturday September 3, where the Reds will be hoping to pick up a third consecutive victory. Ahead of the trip to Goodison Park to play Everton, the Reds’ manager was interviewed by BT Sport about his ‘non-negotiables’ as a manager.
During the interview released Friday, September 2, he opened up on how important discipline is to him as a manager and how there have been players during his management career that don’t fit his principles.
‘I’m very disciplined. I’m very relaxed, but sometimes things happen – not really bad things – and I ask ‘do we have a fine for that?’ And then they tell me ‘no, we don’t have a fine for that because it’s never happened before’.
‘Discipline is very important to me, but the players are used to that – they grew up in the football environment and you can’t do team sport without discipline. It’s better not to sign really ‘difficult’ players.
‘And if somebody develops into a ‘difficult’ player, you better bring him out of the building because they might help you in the short term but will always hurt you in the long term. So we never really have disciplinary issues.’
‘There have been players who didn’t fit with my principles, and that’s when we parted ways. I’ve never signed a player like this, but from time to time there have been. But in 22 years as a manager it’s not even a handful, so I think that’s a pretty good number.’
The German, who became Liverpool’s manager in 2015 following spells at Borussia Dortmund and Mainz, says his Christian values have defined his principles throughout life and is responsible for his success. He said;
‘I cannot divide that from me as a human being, so it’s definitely my parents and because I’m a Christian I have to mention Jesus Christ. That’s my line which I try to follow through life.
‘You never know exactly what other coaches are doing. How can you if you’re not around when they are acting in the role? I never thought about that – I never wanted to be like somebody else. Not because I think I am so outstanding, just because I have no idea how other people are, so I try to solve my problems myself.’
Klopp then referenced Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold in his interview, after watching him grow from a ‘boy to a man’.
‘The most important thing is that the players share my principles. We sign in to a very close relationship when a player signs a contract at our club. And that means we spend a lot of time together and have to get along with each other.
‘There’s one talk before we sign a player where I put all my personality on the table – not the face everybody knows from the television but the real face; maybe it’s the same, maybe it differs in some aspects.
‘I expect the same from a player because when you know as much as possible about each other you work much better together. That’s why these talks are maybe the most important – because in that moment we find an agreement on how we treat each other.’
‘There is only one comparison I have and that’s the father role: as a son or a daughter you expect from your parents from time to time that they tell you off.
‘But you also have a person around who will support you in all parts of life, and that’s my role as well. My players expect me to be strict in moments.
‘I do this mostly for myself, because I like having good relationships. Life is serious enough that we don’t have to make problems we have each day bigger than they are. I have worked with some players now at Liverpool for seven years.
‘Trent Alexander-Arnold is now 23, which means he was 16 or 17 when I met him, so I saw him growing from a boy to a man. It’s a part of my job as well to help him find his way as a man. It’s never been difficult for me to find the right balance.’
‘All the players I talk to are brilliant football players, so then it’s about how you can make the difference. Whatever age a player is when you sign him, he has to be ready to improve.
‘Whatever he did before is great because we want to bring him in, but the moment he arrives is not his last destination. We are maybe somewhere between start and end, so that means we really expect improvement. We expect from ourselves that we help the player to improve, but he needs to be ready to do so as well.
During his time at Liverpool, Klopp has won everything there is to win including the Champions League win in 2019, and their first league trophy in 30 years in 2020.
Klopp’s side for the majority of last season were on course to win an unprecedented quadruple after winning both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup but ultimately lost the Premier League by one point to Manchester City, and the Champions League final to Real Madrid.