Two of Jurgen Klopp’s former players and his ex-youth coach at Borussia Dortmund Gary Gordon have spoken in length to FourFourTwo about just what it’s like to work under the charismatic German.
And any Liverpool players hoping for an enjoyable ride will be in for a physically gruelling shock, it’d be fair to say!
PATRICK OWOMOYELA (Dortmund 2008-13):
“It was more like being around a friend who would teach you something and tell you something you might want to know.”
“It was a different atmosphere. I’ve had some coaches before who didn’t talk much or didn’t like to talk individually. He’s totally different, he has a nice approach to the team. He would talk to everyone, whenever they needed it or wanted it. He has an open ear for everybody and their problems.
“We would be sitting outside the training camp just talking about private stuff, and then it would be 10 o’clock when we would go on the pitch and it would be different. He was the coach then. He could turn it on and off but he wasn’t two-faced.”
“He wanted fast players – they had to be fast. It wasn’t worth picking up anyone who was slow. It doesn’t matter how technically gifted they were, he didn’t want a slow player.
“He also wanted hungry players, who didn’t have to be pushed. He doesn’t need stars, he needs hungry players. Stars are going to be difficult to deal with. Young players in their early 20s and taking them to the next level is his thing. That’s what he’s good at.”
“He brought the winning mentality back to Dortmund. He gave the whole team hope of doing better than the last year, and he just showed us that if we followed and believed in him then there will be success at the end.
“It didn’t take long for him to prove it to us. Even in his first year, the team was doing much better than the year before. From then on it was only forwards. There was progression and it was always in the right direction. We just believed him and followed him.”
TIM HOOGLAND (Mainz 2007-08)
“You have to run. That’s it,” he says.
“I think this is one of the important things you have to know about him. The whole team has to run 120 km (74.5 miles) collectively every game. 120km minimum [laughs].”
“In his first year he said he wouldn’t guarantee anything apart from that when we reached 120km per game then it would be much harder for us to lose.
“He actually offered us a day off when we reached that target. He thought that if we reached that then we would win the game. And from then on it became easy because we understood that his plan would work.”
“Winning the ball is one of the main parts of his training sessions.”
“Every practice was with the ball.
“There would be one day where you would shoot a lot, putting in crosses and such. Then other days you had a mini tournament in the second training session of the day; five vs five. On another day there would be 11 vs 11, so you would use everything that you learnt from the video study so you can put that into a real game.
“When it comes to words, he will find the right ones for the situation,” he says. “I don’t know where he got that, if he reads a lot or whatever, but he creates pictures in your heads when he talks. He will find the right picture to put in your head to make you feel or see what he wants you to understand. Then it’s easy for you to believe, understand, and to do it. That’s something special.
GARY GORDON (Borussia Dortmund coach
“I think he looks into his own players,” says British former soldier-turned-Borussia Dortmund youth coach Gary Gordon. “Talking to his players, working his players and driving them to their limits.
“He wants to see where the pain starts with each player. Does he have the full trust of them? That’s going to be a key point as well. He can get that extra per cent out of a player.”
“Of course we talked about different teams and the way they played but he only gave the match plan on the stuff we could do best against those teams.”
“He always had a new plan but, basically, the first few years were about creating our own plan and philosophy for the club. That was his main focus.”