Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp has never been one to hide his emotions and right now the 43-year-old usually has a smile on his face.
No wonder, since his young, stylish Dortmund side are seven points clear of his former club 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the top of the Bundesliga and 14 ahead of champions FC Bayern München. Their UEFA Europa League position is less secure – they are third in Group J ahead of their home meeting with FC Karpaty Lviv – but already, it is being said that Dortmund and Klopp were made for each other.
Fans in the club's home region, the Ruhr, are renowned as being among the most passionate in Germany, and while he is a calm analyst of the game on television, Klopp is as animated as any supporter during Dortmund games, pacing up and down the touchline, gesturing excitably and often joining in goal celebrations.
Such behaviour is entirely in keeping with his footballing philosophy. "
We want to play at full throttle, we want to take it to the limit," he explained. While his side have taken that to heart, Klopp's only regret is his occasional "embarrassing" altercations with authority figures. "Sorry, I am an idiot," Klopp said penitently after a recent spat with a fourth official.
Clearly the former Mainz striker turned defender sets high standards for his own behaviour, and this was rarely more apparent than after a 4-0 win at Hannover 96 on 7 November where he was horrified to see his side playing "cautiously, like an away team". Seemingly unmoved by the scoreline, he added: "We have problem after problem. The team just don't listen. I still have no idea whether I am the right man for this job."
His players seem certain he is. Klopp's relationship with his side has been extremely close, though he was happy to affectionately mock goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, who at 30 is by far the oldest player in his regular starting XI. "He is a terrible sight in the morning," said Klopp. "We have to drag him along. Sometimes we have to drink him pretty."
The genial Klopp is no fool, though. Eyebrows were raised when, in his first summer with the club in 2008, he persuaded Dortmund to sign unknown centre-back Neven Subotić from his old side Mainz for €4.5m, but at 21 the Bosnian is now a recognised master in his position.
Japanese attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa looked to be a similarly eccentric purchase this summer, but the 21-year-old has justified Klopp's decision to field him ahead of more recognised talents, with seven goals in 14 Bundesliga appearances.
The Stuttgart-born Klopp is also alive to innovations in sports science, using first-half highlights packages to illustrate tactical points to his players during the half-time interval, and while he may have won nothing yet, he has earned acclaim from 'Der Kaiser'. "
Dortmund are in a league of their own at the moment," said Franz Beckenbauer, with the mighty Zeus of the German footballing world adding: "Klopp is on his way to Mount Olympus."
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