Danke Schön, Jürgen

How do you say thank you for everything that Jürgen Klopp has done? Words alone aren’t sufficient, but what else is there? For those of us lucky enough to get to Anfield over the next couple of months, we’ll be able to voice our thanks in person. For everyone else, there is little more than a collective sense of grief at the manager’s decision to leave at the end of the season as well as a desire discuss it in a communal manner. There are some people that don’t like football. There are many millions of folks that either love a different sport or else don’t like sport at all. To them, we must all look like lunatics. Talking about grief and loss and sadness, all because someone has decided to quit their job. There will even be some football fans who don’t really get it, having never had a manager as all-encompassing as Jürgen take charge of their club. It is only really Manchester United supporters who saw Alex Ferguson depart and Arsenal fans who were still behind Arsene Wenger that will properly get it, given that they were some of the only managers who left on their own terms.

And that is what Jürgen is doing. Not since Kenny Dalglish’s reign the first time around has a Liverpool manager left on their own terms, rather than being politely asked to leave or else actively pushed out of the door. Whatever happens from here, the German gets to walk away with his head held high. That isn’t just because of what he won as manager, which would be enough for anyone to be remembered as a Liverpool legend. Nor is the fact that he won it all in the age of sports-washing, when his victories have been lessened because a club was allowed to win and keep winning in spite of the Premier League putting 115 charges against them. It is because of how he made us all feel. During the Jürgen Klopp years, us supporters got to feel as though anything was possible, that there wasn’t anything that we couldn’t do if we did it together. The results that we achieved with him in charge were sensational, making our rivals look stupid in comparison to the team that he put together. Little wonder, then, that we all feel so incredibly sad now we know that’s coming to an end.

Stocking up the Trophy Cabinet

There was a time in the 1980s when Everton sent someone to Anfield in order to measure the European Cup, with the aim being that they could then build a trophy cabinet big enough to house it. Instead, they put a clock inside that space, with European success evading them for numerous reasons. When Luton Town won at Goodison Park this weekend it meant that the FA Cup would be beyond them, which was the last trophy that they won back in 1995. Liverpool had won everything bar the Premier League in the years between Everton’s last trophy and the arrival of Jürgen Klopp. The top-flight title was the thing supporters craved more than anything else, to the point that it seemed as if it would always evade us. When the German arrived, he immediately went about the process of getting us to forget about the history that we all carried with us in a backpack, weighing us down. We needed, he said, to turn from doubters to believers. When we reached two finals at the end of his first season in charge, I think most of us made that shift pretty quickly.

When we missed out on the title by a single point, it felt as if the Premier League was a step too far even for Jürgen Klopp, with many all but giving up on the idea of winning it. The German didn’t though. He had put a team together capable of getting 97 points at the same time as winning the Champions League, so he knew we were more than capable of going again. And go again we did, winning 106 out of a possible 108 points across the two seasons, seeing three points added to our tally in 26 out of the first 27 games we played in the 2019-2020 campaign. That we achieved that whilst also winning the Super Cup and Club World Cup is testament to just how impressive the manager actually is. Yes, we’ve missed out on things under him, but managing it in an era where teams are being called cheats by the very organisation that awards them the trophies they’re lifting is something to be applauded rather than criticised. We’ve added plenty of silverware to our trophy cabinet, meaning the clock can stay at Goodison Park for a long time yet.

Bragging Rights

Winning silverware will always be the thing that captures the imagination of supporters. It is the only thing that matters when the history books look back on a managerial reign. Yet what Jürgen Klopp has also done is give us back our bragging rights, not only over our neighbours from across Stanley Park but also over Manchester United. Under the German, we’ve beaten Everton in pretty much every way there is to beat them. From Divock Origi’s goal after Jordan Pickford inexplicable kept the ball in play through to Sadio Mané netting in the last minute at Goodison Park, it’s been a joy to see how many different ways we could defeat the Blues with Jürgen in the dugout. Maybe part of the reason he’s chosen to leave is that he can’t figure out any other to humiliate Everton. Whilst our wins over Manchester United haven’t been as consistent, it is certainly the case that we’ve notched up some big ones over the years and they will be looked back on fondly once the manager has left. If we can managed another big on at Old Trafford, that would be great news.

Even during our worst time under the manager, which was last season, we still stuck seven past the Red Devils at Anfield. It is the sort of thing that I will remember until my dying day. As most readers will know, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in the summer of 2018. MS is a degenerative disease in which the body attacks itself, meaning that the only thing I know is that I will get progressively worse as I get older. One of the few things that has kept me going over the years since then is watching Jürgen Klopp’s team play matches. Football is an escape. It is something that allows us all to get away from the hum drum nature of our lives and focus on something else for a bit. We know that it isn’t really that important; that it is, at the end of the day, still just a game. But it is also a really important thing that stops the misery of life grinding us down too much. It is, as the saying goes, the most important of the least important things in life. Jürgen made it fun again in a way that many of us will never forget and for that, I say Danke schön.

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