Jurgen Klopp has provided a rare insight into his management off the pitch, discussing a range of topics from how he deals with difficult players to how Christian values define his principles.
Liverpool are preparing for the Merseyside Derby on Saturday, where the Reds will be hoping to pick up a third consecutive victory – following a sluggish start to the campaign.
Ahead of the trip to Goodison Park to play Everton, the Reds’ manager was interviewed by BT Sport about his ‘non-negotiables’ as a manager.
Jurgen Klopp has opened up on his ‘non-negotiables’ as a manager ahead of the Merseyside Derby
The Liverpool manager is very disciplined and expects his players to share the same principles
During the interview, he opened up on how important discipline is to him as a manager and how there have been players during his management career that don’t fit his principles.
He revealed: ‘I’m very disciplined. I’m very relaxed, but sometimes things happen – not really bad things – and I ask ‘do we have a fine for that?’ And then they tell me ‘no, we don’t have a fine for that because it’s never happened before’.
‘Discipline is very important to me, but the players are used to that – they grew up in the football environment and you can’t do team sport without discipline. It’s better not to sign really ‘difficult’ players.
‘And if somebody develops into a ‘difficult’ player, you better bring him out of the building because they might help you in the short term but will always hurt you in the long term. So we never really have disciplinary issues.’
Klopp added: ‘There have been players who didn’t fit with my principles, and that’s when we parted ways. I’ve never signed a player like this, but from time to time there have been. But in 22 years as a manager it’s not even a handful, so I think that’s a pretty good number.’
Klopp says there have been players who didn’t fit his principles and Mamadou Sakho is one rare example of a player who fell out-of-favour with the German during his time at Anfield
Nuri Sahin (left) meanwhile was thrown out of a Borussia Dortmund training session by Klopp though revealed the German was ‘always on his side’
Klopp has rarely fallen out with players at Liverpool, though defender Mamadou Sakho fell out-of-favour with the German during his early years at Anfield.
After serving a ban for doping in 2016, a charge which he was later cleared of, Sakho’s career at Liverpool declined rapidly.
During the following pre-season trip to the USA, Sakho was sent home early by Klopp after nearly missing his flight to America, skipping a rehabilitation session and arriving late to team meals.
The French defender was banished to the under-23s and was never given another opportunity to redeem himself, eventually being sold to Crystal Palace in 2017 after a loan spell.
Former Dortmund and Liverpool midfielder Nuri Sahin also revealed to Goal last year, that he was thrown out of training by Klopp at the Bundesliga side.
He said: ‘I was playing for Borussia Dortmund and the coach threw me out of training. He told me to leave, because I had an argument with another player.
‘I was young and I thought I knew everything. I was sure I was in the right, 100 per cent, but he told me to go, so I went.
‘So, the next day I came in and I thought ‘OK, maybe it’s the end for me here’, you know? I thought he would put me out of the squad or whatever. But he came in and it was like nothing had happened.
‘It was a moment for me to realise that I would have him on my side even when I was in the wrong.’
The German, who became Liverpool’s manager in 2015 following spells at Borussia Dortmund and Mainz, says that Christian values have defined his principles throughout life.
He said: ‘I cannot divide that from me as a human being, so it’s definitely my parents and because I’m a Christian I have to mention Jesus Christ. That’s my line which I try to follow through life.
‘You never know exactly what other coaches are doing. How can you if you’re not around when they are acting in the role? I never thought about that – I never wanted to be like somebody else. Not because I think I am so outstanding, just because I have no idea how other people are, so I try to solve my problems myself.’
While a lot of big-name managers in football have had famous fallouts which has led to the exit of a player, Klopp famously is very popular among those he coaches.
Klopp has managed to build a good rapport with his players during his seven years at Anfield
Klopp said it was part of his way to help players like Trent Alexander-Arnold who he has watched grow from a boy to a man after meeting the England star when he was 16 or 17
The Klopp hug has become a famous sight during his time as Liverpool, and his personality has helped players warm to the manager, and make want players outside the club want to play for him.
The German expects players at clubs he joins, or from new signings, to share his principles.
He said: ‘The most important thing is that the players share my principles. We sign in to a very close relationship when a player signs a contract at our club. And that means we spend a lot of time together and have to get along with each other.
‘There’s one talk before we sign a player where I put all my personality on the table – not the face everybody knows from the television but the real face; maybe it’s the same, maybe it differs in some aspects.
‘I expect the same from a player because when you know as much as possible about each other you work much better together. That’s why these talks are maybe the most important – because in that moment we find an agreement on how we treat each other.’
KIopp says the principles of a player are the most important thing when he looks to bring in a new player
Klopp referenced Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold in his interview, after watching him grow from a ‘boy to a man’.
Discussing relationship with players he said: ‘There is only one comparison I have and that’s the father role: as a son or a daughter you expect from your parents from time to time that they tell you off.
‘But you also have a person around who will support you in all parts of life, and that’s my role as well. My players expect me to be strict in moments.
‘I do this mostly for myself, because I like having good relationships. Life is serious enough that we don’t have to make problems we have each day bigger than they are. I have worked with some players now at Liverpool for seven years.
‘Trent Alexander-Arnold is now 23, which means he was 16 or 17 when I met him, so I saw him growing from a boy to a man. It’s a part of my job as well to help him find his way as a man. It’s never been difficult for me to find the right balance.’
Liverpool have won every trophy there is to win during Klopp’s successful reign as manager
Klopp’s side are preparing for the Merseyside Derby as they look to make it three wins in a row
Klopp also revealed that values are the most important thing when it comes to scouting possible signings.
He said: ‘All the players I talk to are brilliant football players, so then it’s about how you can make the difference. Whatever age a player is when you sign him, he has to be ready to improve.
‘Whatever he did before is great because we want to bring him in, but the moment he arrives is not his last destination. We are maybe somewhere between start and end, so that means we really expect improvement. We expect from ourselves that we help the player to improve, but he needs to be ready to do so as well.
During his time at Liverpool, Klopp has won everything there is to win.
His highlights have been the Champions League win in 2019, and their first league trophy in 30 years in 2020.
Klopp’s side for the majority of last season were on course to win an unprecedented quadruple after winning both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup.
Unfortunately for the Reds, they ultimately fell short in the Premier League by one point to Manchester City, while lost out in the Champions League final to Real Madrid.
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