Over five years ago, in a pre-match press meet, the then Borrusia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp first time christened his brand of football. “I think he (Arsene Wenger) likes having the ball, playing good football. It is like an orchestra. But it is a silent song. I prefer heavy metal. I like it loud”. Dortmund beat Arsenal at the Emirates 2-1 soon after. It did not make much news being a Champions League Group stage game. Also, Dortmund being a Bundesliga team, often did not get the credit it deserved from the English media. A decade of famous terms coined by them: ‘Invincibles’, ‘Special one’, ‘Fergie time’, ‘Park the bus’ etc all drowned Klopp’s own brand!
Now in 2018, Klopp’s ‘heavy metal’ football has got louder. And his brand of all guns blazing, entire Anfield stadium roaring ‘loud’, football, deserves all the credit. Liverpool’s style is now a breath of fresh air and that is something any fan of the game will agree. Today, in the Premier League, three teams play with an identity. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur and Klopps’ Liverpool. Neutrals and fans of clubs who play the ‘tactical football’ orchestra will crave for this ‘heavy metal’ version.
Klopp has yet to conquer the English league but what he has achieved has been without spending astronomical sums on full-backs or making an XI of six feet tall burly players. He sure deserves more credit. This decade (since 2010) he has been the master of knock out games. He showed that at the biggest stage with Dortmund in 2012/13 reaching the Champions League finals. He showed it with Liverpool even in his first season in the Europa league. He is now showing it again on the biggest stage, with the same formula – impregnable in defence and devastating in strikes, at home. With a football that is a perfect antithesis. With a football which reminds us how Dortmund bullied Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in his time. People forget Jupp Heyncks’ Bayern Munich lost two Bundesliga titles to Klopp in 2010-2012.
The hype that ‘park the bus’ or ‘tactical (nonsense) football’ is needed for the one-off knock out games should now be permanently squashed. Liverpool attack, press high, then attack and entertain. And then attack again. A 5-1 win over Manchester City in the Quarter-finals, followed by yesterday night’s 5-2 win over Roma. They are plundering their rivals. If Liverpool go on to win the Champions League trophy (they are still two games away), it will be great for the game. Not just for a new champion this decade, not just for a revival of their 2005-2009 period, but also for what they are giving to the game. Coaches of other teams will be forced to think – why not be brave, play with flair and get the crowds behind you? Just the way Anfield is roaring this season. Or the hostility their fans show to rival teams. The hair rising excitement they feel on eve of a game. It really is head banging stuff.
In case Liverpool fail to win the Champions League, it is a good time to remind ourselves that at the start of the season, they were ninth in Champions League winners’ odds listing! These were the odds at start of this season (Real Madrid – 4/1; PSG – 7/1; Bayern Munich – 7/1; Barcelona – 7/1; Man City – 10/1; Man Utd – 11/1; Juventus – 14/1; Atletico Madrid – 20/1; Liverpool – 22/1). What a transformation it has been since then! And credit to Klopp .. for doing it with an Arsenal discard Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, for doing it with unknown Loris Karius, with unknown Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the ageing and Manchester City discard James Milner, and doing it with a player who was discarded by José Mourinho and written off by the British press .. you know the name!