Paul Hayward of the Telegraph is one of our more insightful sports correspondents. I remember hearing him on some football programme discussing the dismissal of Big Phil Scolari from Chelsea. He admitted that journalists had been lazy in their research as Scolari’s record in club football was not so impressive though he had won the World Cup with Brazil. With this in mind, I was interested to read how the appointment of Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool would be reported.
There was much fanfare and hype. He came across as engaging and committed but we did not read too much about his periods at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund. John Pargiter in his endless search for betting tips happened to call. He swears by the golf correspondent in the Racing and Football Outlook, Jeremy Chapman, and informed that there was quite a detailed exposition of Klopp in there too.
Based on performance statistics the writer extrapolated a definite trend. He made his name at Mainz who achieved promotion under him to the top flight for the first time and a place in the old UEFA Cup but they were relegated. The same cycle of immediate improvement, success and failure was noted in his next club Borussia Dortmund. By the time he left they were near the bottom.
The football Rusters , Ivan, Alan, Stefano and myself met in an expensive restaurant in Victoria where Stefano was greeted warmly as the owners are a Florentine family which number a player of the past. We agreed based on our clubs that team building is the most important aspect of management. Chris Hughton has bought well, improved his squad and Brighton are top. So are Fiorentina under Paolo Sousa. Fulham continue to concede goals and give away matches the transfer window over and 10 games into the season. Kit Symons has bought in more solid defenders but the problem has not been resolved.
Managers can achieve at one club but not another. Fabio Capello, 7 league trophies in 15 years in 2 countries, is one that does not seem to fail at any club but he did not achieve success internationally at England and Russia. Louis Van Gaal did succeed with Ajax and Barcalona, less so at Holland. Alex Ferguson was not a roaring success at Scotland where he did not select Alan Hansen.
Klopp does seem to conform to the modern Euro manager, fluent in English, well-dressed and supremely self confident. Image is important as Christian Gross found out to his cost. He never recovered from taking the tube from Heathrow on arrival. A manager with tv cameras on him needs to ensure he is well suited and booted. The ultimate template is Jose Mourinho, serial winner of trophies but even he cannot deliver consistent success. Liverpool with its roots in the past, it’s vocal legends on tv and media, its expectant fans is going to be a tough assignment. Klopp wants a totally free hand but this can be a rod for his own back. If a £50m forward does not score he has no chairman to blame for buying him. Carlo Ancelotti is the best at absorbing successfully players foisted on him into a successful team. Personally I don’t see Liverpool overhauling Mancheser City, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal and put them in the “just below ” bracket with Spurs.