Juergen Klopp has taken the English world by storm. But the current fascination is understandable. He’s reached heights only pop stars attain, and Germans too are smitten by the Borussia Dortmund coach.
The above video ‘I wanne be like Juergen Klopp’ is his rendition of ‘Usher’s Love In This Club’ and includes clips of Klopp as well as Shinji Kagawa, Nuri Sahin, Neven Subotic and fans. The video ends with Klopp and his iconic laugh. I have to say his imitations are brilliant and the resemblance is unbelievable.
Many people wouldn’t have dealt with news that their major league rivals, now twenty points clear in the Bundesliga, have poached one of their most important players. But this is Juergen Klopp we’re talking about. The Borussia Dortmund coach was both cutting and reasoned in his response to Mario Goetze’s reported €37 million transfer to Bayern Munich next season. He told reporters today when asked on why Mario was leaving:
“The reason Gotze is leaving? He is the favorite transfer of Guardiola.
“So if it’s anyones fault it’s mine. I cannot make myself 15cm smaller and learn Spanish. Gotze wants to work with this extraordinary coach that is Guardiola.
“I cannot preach football of quick transitions and now start playing Tiki Taka.”
Still, despite his slight digs disguised as self-deprecation, he was also careful to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy:
“This season we activated Marco Reus’ release clause and Gladbach wasn’t happy either.”
It’s not as if Dortmund are St. Pauli. They know what this is about, and no doubt Klopp has already weighed his options in light of the loss of one of Germany’s most promising midfield talents.
Here is Juergen Klopp’s post-game reaction on his team’s stunning rally in injury time to beat Malaga. He’s clearly delighted at his team’s victory and can barely contain his excitement. He also answers questions about Santana’s offside goal.
Wait for Kloppo’s epic reaction at the 1:06 mark…isn’t he the ultimate dream coach?
More than any other coach in elite football, Juergen Klopp is distinguished by his beard and sideline celebrations. His jubel-lauf (his version of the happy dance/walk), fist-pumping antics and gestures have made him a household name in both Dortmund as well as Germany.
But there’s more to the man than his beard. Unlike Joachim Loew, who always appears ready to brace a GQ cover, Klopp is the least bit interested in his appearance. His beard is partly pragmatic, partly personal taste. Kloppo, as some Germans prefer to call him, swears he simply grows it out because he doesn’t appreciate his appearance clean-shaven.
Although the beard has contributed to his commercial success—he was featured in a Philips commercial during Euro 2012 asking fans to grow their beards for as long as Germany remains in the competition—Klopp says money and fame were never his goals.
All he ever wanted was to manage in the Bundesliga and hopefully one day in the English Premier League (although he’s no longer too keen on the latter). In an interview with Der Tagesspiegel last summer, he said he didn’t even realize the extent of his popularity until he noticed the curious heads of strangers peeking over his garden fence. The peak in popularity was due to his job as an on-air personality for the German broadcaster ZDF, analyzing the nationalmannschaft for millions of viewers across the country during the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 European Championship.
But his commercial success is irrelevant. What is important are Klopp’s unique relationship with his players and his managing style. He is the antithesis of Felix Magath. He’s charismatic, edgy and approachable. It’s not uncommon to see him hug his players and show affection. He’s comfortable with the father-like figure. It comes natural to him. This is where Klopp’s coaching style also enters the picture. Read the rest of this entry »
Arrigo Sacchi is famous for being one of the more innovative European football managers in the game with AC Milan in the lat 1980s, but he’s also well-known for his response to questions over his credentials to manager football as someone who never played the game professionally: “I never realised that in order to become a jockey you have to have been a horse first.”
It stands to reason there may be more jockeys and fewer horses managing football clubs in Europe over the next couple of decades. Take for example Juergen Klopp’s approach to coaching, using nothing more than intensive video review:
For me the best analysis is to watch the game again. I know it’s very old fashioned. Tape in, forward and rewind, forward and rewind…a thousand times…spent 5 or 6 hours on a 90 minute game. I haven’t been able to do it any faster. But to be clear: this was my education, no book or seminars or anything from renowned trainers. 10 games a week and I usually started before breakfast.
Improvement in football viewing experiences for the layman or woman at home may give prospective managers even more insight into on-field actions. Moreover, improvements in data-gathering technology will allow them to measure their visual impressions against the available data, or even track it themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
Mustafa Amini stands in the middle of a cage. Rest assured, this isn’t what it seems. Contrary to appearances, the Borussia Dortmund youngster isn’t the club’s captive. This isn’t some draconian punishment for a poor performance, ill discipline or threatening to grow back that outrageous auburn afro.
No, this here is an experiment and Amini is a willing guinea pig. Why? Because, with time, he might leave the cage a Footbonaut. That’s the name of the new state-of-the-art training machine Dortmund unveiled at their Brackel training ground back in late September.
Sounds Space Age, doesn’t it? The cage is 14m square with a grass surface. A player takes up a position in a centre circle and receives the ball from one of eight different traps. Two are placed in the centre of each of the four walls. One low. One high. And a bleep signifies the release of the ball.
The walls of the cage are made up of 64 grids, each 1.4m square. They are framed by light bars and one of the 64 illuminates after every ball release. The player then has to hit the designated target as fast as he can. The light bars around a grid flash green, yellow then red depending on how long it takes him to find his spot.
Just to make things that little bit more challenging the speed of the ball can be adjusted up to 120km/h too, as can other variables like spin. A player’s performance can then be downloaded to smartphones or tablet devices for analysis. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I wrote a big sermon in the wake of the US election results on the future of analytics in football punditry. By analytics I really meant ‘non-intuitive match data’, not necessarily statistical analysis, although that’s obviously a crucial component.
My point was not that statistics will eventually transform football into a mere odds game, but that the time will come when journalistic cliches will have to subject to unassailable empirical data.
What might that mean in practice?
Ideally, it would mean journalists to could point to a number of metrics to make definitive claims about how a team played a football match. A lot of this sort of thing happens already. For example, many bloggers will refer to a pass completion graph to illustrate the effectiveness of a full-back in assisting in attack. This is still pretty crude, but nevertheless is a major step forward from ten years’ ago when the great unwashed had only the word of “experts” to go on.
There is also no guarantee football analytics will be able to do something revolutionary like explain in concrete, tactical terms the cause of the distributive gap between shots, shots on target, and goals. That’s the holy grail for researchers, but in practice, non-intuitive statistical correlations aren’t nearly as important as data that confirms or denies our own subjective impressions. Read the rest of this entry »