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'Players would follow Klopp into a tropical cyclone'

Published: Friday 1 November 2013, 9.30CET
After Jürgen Klopp renewed his commitment to Borussia Dortmund this week, considers the qualities that make the 46-year-old coach such a precious commodity.
by Philip Röber
'Players would follow Klopp into a tropical cyclone'
Jürgen Klopp is expected to be at the BVB helm for ten years following his contract extension ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 1 November 2013, 9.30CET

'Players would follow Klopp into a tropical cyclone'

After Jürgen Klopp renewed his commitment to Borussia Dortmund this week, considers the qualities that make the 46-year-old coach such a precious commodity.

Borussia Dortmund fans declared it "an early Christmas present" when Jürgen Klopp confirmed this week he had extended his contract until 2018. With a return match against Arsenal FC on 6 November, outlines the qualities which make the charismatic coach such a firm favourite with BVB supporters.

Yes, his emotional style can sometimes border on the excessive; Klopp admits his exuberant celebrations have led to torn muscles and embarrassing slow motion replays on television. However, his authentic manner makes him not only popular among fans in Germany and beyond, but also earns him enormous credit in the dressing room. Players would probably follow Klopp into a tropical cyclone if asked, so it is unsurprising they are willing to give everything for 90 minutes on a football pitch once or twice a week. Few other coaches are as capable at coaxing out performances.

Tactical innovation
Klopp may not have reinvented football, but he has created a style that is both effective and attractive. Upon arrival at Dortmund in 2008, Klopp had obstacles and setbacks to overcome in order to implement his philosophy, yet the tactician has always maintained a relaxed approach towards mistakes. As long as you learn from mistakes and put in the effort to make amends, there is no problem. Consequently, his team have become highly efficient at what Klopp calls "defending in a wild way" or a "joint raid to win back the ball". As other teams try out ways to guard against this high-speed football, and also to avoid predictability, Klopp has started to use variations on that approach. A perfect example was the matchday three game at Arsenal when Dortmund remained rather passive and compact before delivering one decisive counter to clinch victory.

There are few coaches as successful as Klopp with such a short CV. Having spent his entire senior playing career at 1. FSV Mainz 05, Klopp was handed the coaching reins by the club in 2001 and stayed even when times were tough. By the end of this season, Klopp will have spent six years at Dortmund, matching the benchmark set by Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Schwarzgelben's longest-serving trainer. "Our relationship is not a win-win situation, but a win-win-win-win situation," Klopp said in a recent interview. Success surely helps, yet there is a mutual trust between Klopp and the Dortmund management which has been the driving force behind an exciting project that may last quite a while longer. "I am a little bit in love with this club," the 46-year-old said. "Until 2018, no one needs to call."

Team development
At Mainz, Klopp proved his ability to build a successful team on a relatively tight budget and when he took over at Dortmund – on the verge of filing for bankruptcy three years previously – there was not exactly a surplus of money. Out of necessity comes invention. Players who want to impress Klopp need to have a good character, be team men and possess an "extreme love of football". Klopp will not let the dressing-room atmosphere be compromised in any way. He has a knack for creating a positive environment, as explained by midfielder İlkay Gündoğan: "We're often joking around, but he knows when to get serious. He does a great job of finding the right mix, and making us like training and want to come to work. It's why all of us are so eager to get out there on the pitch." Allied to this is Klopp's keen eye for a player: in his care budding talents have blossomed. Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski, Marcel Schmelzer and Mario Götze are only a few examples, while the likes of Jonas Hofmann and Eric Durm are treading the same path. They will be delighted Klopp is staying to guide them.

Last updated: 01/11/13 18.06CET

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