Jurgen Klopp's ultimate challenge at Liverpool is becoming Germany's greatest manager abroad
Bayern Munich probably didn't fancy Jurgen Klopp, but he will become his country's greatest football export if Liverpool can revisit their golden days. German managers are just not renowned for overwhelming success abroad, writes Desmond Kane.
Jurgen Klopp enjoys himself on his first day as Liverpool manager.
In Ridley Scott’s glorious new film The Martian, Matt Damon plays a bloke who washes up in a weird red land without any resources where the weather is inhumane, the environment quickly turns hostile and he only has memories to cling to as his life ebbs away before him. Yet Damon isn’t portraying the traditional fate of a Liverpool manager since they last won England’s national title under Scotsman Kenny Dalglish a quarter of a century ago.
Jurgen Klopp won’t exactly be viewed as a martian after being wheeled out as the 21st manager in the club's history on Friday – most of their fans already view his appointment as akin to the second coming of Jesus Christ, Bill Shankly or Gerry Marsden – but he is a genuine football explorer in boldly going where no German manager has been trusted to go before in attempting to sprinkle his Dortmund gold dust over Merseyside. Even if £140,000-a-week makes such fiendish challenges easier to face.
A German with an infectious sense of humour, Klopp is laughing all the way to the bank, but he could have found easier ways to make a wedge than trying to resurrect a club who never seem far from some infectiously haunting experiences.
Despite the compliments of the Bayern Munich World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer early this week, it is not ridiculous to hold the belief that Klopp is only at Liverpool because the Bayern Munich manager's job would never be his.
Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp
Image credit: Eurosport
His rock star image and the theatrical, rebellious nature to his style and the appliance of science in his coaching methods at Borussia Dortmund did not fit in with the corporate identity of Bayern, who are desperately trying to keep Pep Guardiola.
That is not to say Klopp cannot infuse Liverpool with his own brand of musical youth.
GERMANY'S FINEST BINGE ON BUNDESLIGA
It is worth noting amid the hyperbole and high fives that Klopp has witnessed since arriving at John Lennon Airport as football's fifth Beatle that he will have to buck a severe trend if he is going to lead such a club back to the palace of wisdom.
The Scouse comedian Stan Boardman was once famous for cracking a few anti-German war jokes about how "the Germans bombed our chippy". Old Stan might be able to start a new line on how they bombed our football clubs. Liverpool have remarkably not yet cracked the code on appointing the right man for their supporters' aspirations. Klopp has binged on the Bundesliga, but in these parts is mainly the latest trier professing his love of red.
Despite being engineers of the world game, Teutonic goodness does not travel nearly as well in coaching as it does in playing the world game.
Trying to name a successful German manager outside of the Bundesliga is almost as trying as Brendan Rodgers' natural ability to lose two stones. When you omit Barcelona and Real Madrid from the list, there is a body of work regarding German coaches abroad to suggest Liverpool's swooning dalliance with Klopp is a gamble Bruce Grobbelaar would have had a tickle against.
New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp poses with Liverpool chairman Tom Werner (R) and chief executive Ian Ayre
Image credit: Reuters
German managers overseas are marginally more impressive outside of Germany than English coaches are in England when you consider Howard Kendall at Everton in 1987 and Howard Wilkinson of Leeds United in 1992 are the only Englishmen to win their country's domestic title in the past 27 years. That is before it changed its moniker to the Premier League as we know it 23 years ago.
Liverpool are part of this tapestry of torpor. After Joe Fagan won the European Cup, League and League Cup in 1984 before retiring a season later, only Roy Evans, for four years in the 1990s, and Roy Hodgson, for just over six months, have been trusted to run Liverpool.
So does it make sense to go for a foreign coach? Perhaps, but bizarrely enough Germany has not been the natural port of call for a coach for Premier League clubs in comparison to the hotbed of Southern Europe. Scotland is even viewed as a more untapped natural resource for work in England than the home of the world champions. There is no obvious German equivalent of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Helenio Herrera or Louis van Gaal.
Jurgen Klopp is only the second German to manage in the Premier League.
Image credit: Reuters
HITZFELD, LATTEK AND HEYNCKES
Real Madrid have recruited two German coaches in the form of Jupp Heynckes and Bernd Schuster.
After spells with Athletic Bilbao and Tenerife in the early 90s, Heynckes won a Spanish Super Cup at the Bernabeu and oversaw their win over Juventus in the 1998 Champions League final, but was dismissed for finishing fourth in La Liga.
Like Udo Lattek before him, Heynckes is most revered for his contribution to Bayern Munich when he swept all before him culminating with the Champions League win over Klopp's Dortmund in 2013.
Schuster was dismissed after 17 months as Madrid coach despite leading Los Blancos to a 31st Spanish title and the Spanish Cup in 2008 apparently for discussing his side's inability to beat Barcelona in a derby match prior to the festive period.
Lattek lifted a European Cup Winners' Cup and a Spanish League Cup with Barcelona in the early 1980s, but his most notable work was achieved over two spells at Bayern Munich and one with Borussia Mönchengladbach where he won eight Bundesliga titles.
He tasted European Cup success with Bayern in 1974 and the UEFA Cup with Borussia five years later.
Ottmar Hitzfeld lifts the Championsleague trophy upon the team's arrival at Munich's airport May 24, 2001
Image credit: Reuters
Ottmar Hitzfeld, a Champions League-winning coach of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern, built a golden career in Germany after impressive ground work with Grasshoppers in Switzerland in the early 1990s where he won two Swiss Super Leagues in 1990 and 1991.
Christoph Daum carried off Turkey's Super Lig three times with Besiktas and Fenerbahce while at international level Otto Rehhagel's success in leading Greece to the European Championship in 2004 remains memorable for its very audacity.
The only other German to work in England's Premier League was the former Stuttgart coach Felix Magath, who led Fulham's descent into the Championship last year with the air of someone who had lost the dressing room before he turned up for his first day of training. He lasted six months before saying auf wiedersehen after winning four matches out of 20.
Can Klopp become the first German coach to buck a trend abroad? Sir Alex Ferguson, Liverpool's tormentor at Manchester United in overseeing the power shift of the early nineties, is optimistic about the possibilities.
Absolutely [they can succeed], Sir Alex Ferguson told the German magazine Kicker. Of course. Only a few English managers work in the Premier League - the last time one won the title was in 1992. Scots, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italians work successfully here so why not Germans? There’s no reason why they couldn’t approach it with confidence.
Klopp would be viewed as Germany's most successful football coaching export if Liverpool can rise from the ashes after years of introspection. His first remit is to find new life on the barren red plant.