Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was made to wait for his first European trophy, but as he tells Alex Underwood, he is still a long way from fulfilling his ambitions
TO STAY GREEDY'
Jürgen Klopp will always have Madrid. The Liverpool manager admits to having watched “1,000 videos” since his team’s cathartic UEFA Champions League triumph in the Spanish capital. And who can blame him, the charismatic German having lost two European Cup deciders and a UEFA Europa League final before ending that painful sequence at the start of June? Typical of a man renowned for being close to his players, Klopp took just as much satisfaction from the joy of his charges after their victory against Tottenham Hotspur, but he has big plans for them again this season. As he gears up for his very first UEFA Super Cup, the 52-year-old outlines his desire to reach new heights at the club where he has already sealed his place in the pantheon.
How significant is it for Liverpool that the UEFA Super Cup is in Istanbul this year, given the club’s history with the city?
It’s an interesting question. First of all, you think: “Wow! It’s a four-and-a-half-hour flight!” Having Istanbul around the corner would be nicer, but, apart from that, it’s a big one. The Super Cup itself is, in my history, not a cup that I’ve really loved to watch in the past because I was often in the final, either the Champions League or Europa League. If you are not in that game, it means you didn’t win the final. That’s completely different this year, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s a big one and it’s a wonderful city, obviously. Again, two English teams against each other, which is another sign of the quality of the Premier League at the moment.
“After the game was one of the best moments in my life, 100%”
Jürgen Klopp shows off the trophy to Liverpool fans at the victory parade
What type of game do you expect? Will it be different to the UEFA Champions League final?
Yes, hopefully. That game wasn’t an eye-catcher, but it’s not about that. You saw that both teams were under pressure and felt the intensity and importance of the final, which can lead to strange things. And then there’s the early goal we scored. You can prepare for pretty much everything in football, but not for going 1-0 up after one minute. But, for the whole season, we showed that we were really mature, and we should show that again. It’s a final, but the big difference between the Champions League final and this game is that it’s a new season – and a different opponent, obviously. I think Chelsea have changed a lot: Eden Hazard is not there any more and Frank Lampard is coming in. He did a brilliant job at Derby. Of course, people will say we are favourites because we came second in the league last year and won the Champions League, but it’s about who is more ready on the day, and hopefully it’s us.
What was it like for you personally to get your hands on that trophy?
It was really nice. It was overwhelming, but touching the trophy is not something you really need in life. Winning it, if you have the opportunity, is completely different, so I enjoyed that much more than holding the trophy. Watching all the others holding it, to be honest, was nice. I knew about my feelings, but then you see the emotions of all the other people. I have so many fantastic pictures in my mind, which I will never forget, and of course one of them is when Hendo [Jordan Henderson] raised the trophy and we were all there together; it was even better when, seconds later, all the the backroom staff ran on to the stage. That was unbelievably nice. But there are so many other pictures in my mind: when Hendo met his father on the pitch, obviously; when Ali [Alisson Becker] is sitting on the field and calling his pregnant wife. So many nice memories. That’s the special thing about that night, and not me touching the trophy or holding it.
What do you remember about the celebrations?
The best part of the final. By far the best part of the final was all the things that happened around me. In the first week of my holiday, I think I watched 1,000 videos, which I usually don’t do, but the thing is you have only your own view in a situation like that. That’s quite limited, so you miss things and I didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted to put it in my brain and keep it forever, so these pictures are the best and I will watch them in bad moments in the future. It’s so nice to feel all the relief, the power and the emotions in those celebrations. It’s all about that. I know what people think about footballers and managers, but money is not what drives us. These pictures are what we want to see, to put in our minds and keep forever. I will never forget one single moment, and I was so exhausted after the game that I sat in the coaches’ dressing room with my colleagues, which was nice. I enjoyed it so much, having a beer, sitting there, half-naked, talking to the guys who worked the whole year, and I didn’t even go into the players’ dressing room. It was loud there: dancing, music, and I couldn’t. I was just sitting there and I thought: “Wow, it’s unbelievable.” After the game was one of the best moments in my life, 100%.
It was a moment charged with history and Liverpool are all about history, particularly in the European Cup. What do you think Bill Shankly would have made of that achievement?
Unfortunately, we never met. That’s a shame, honestly. You know, when people talk about Bill Shankly, it’s not true that he was a human being. If you hear people talking about him, he could do pretty much everything. I like that, when people are remembered like that. But nobody will ever be as big as he was because he had very difficult circumstances when he started. He built that club from the ground and that’s an achievement. Thankfully, that’s a job nobody has to do any more because the club has now reached a size where things like that will never happen again, but without him this club wouldn’t be the same. What would he have done with it? I think he would have said: “Yes, nice. Let’s go for the next one.”
Let’s talk about the next one. You said that win was just the beginning. Going into the new season, what do you think you need to do to build on that success?
Stay greedy. That’s very important. After the final, we had about four weeks where everybody was patting us on the back and it was brilliant wherever we went. In a different world, things like this can soften you and take the power out of you. We’re not like this, but it’s a fact that it could happen. We only have to do the same again, and, with a couple of things we maybe didn’t do too well, we have to do better. That’s how it is. We know that last season it looked like we got all 97 points with 3-0, 4-0 wins, but we didn’t. We had to win at Newcastle in pretty much the last minute. We scored against Tottenham at home with an own goal in the last minute. Then there’s the draws we had. When we lost against Manchester City, it was really close. We just have to do the same, we have to stay the same, but we have to build our new confidence from the things we achieved last year. If something works out, it gives you the feeling: “Oh yes, so we can do that. Let’s make the next step.” That’s exactly what we have to do: we have to make the next step.
Jürgen Klopp can make history in Istanbul by becoming the first German coach to lift the UEFA Super Cup. That historical curiosity is partly explained by the fact that only once has a German club prevailed, when Pep Guardiola led Bayern München to victory in 2013. Before that, Ottmar Hitzfeld lost as Bayern coach to Liverpool in 2001, while Dettmar Cramer suffered
A FIRST FOR
consecutive losses with the Bundesliga giants in 1975 and 1976. Udo Lattek was unsuccessful at Barcelona in 1982, and Otto Rehhagel’s Werder Bremen also succumbed to Barça, in 1992. The closest a German coach has come to victory was when Lattek’s Bayern and Heinz Krügel’s Magdeburg failed to agree a date for the 1974 edition – unless you count Germán Burgos’s victory with Atlético Madrid last year, the Argentinian standing in for suspended compatriot Diego Simeone.