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- German association football player and manager
After being touted as the best man to resurrect the club, Jurgen Klopp's first 11 matches have already shown signs of the culture shift Liverpool Football Club desperately needed off the pitch, along with the results on it.
Klopp had Liverpool buzzing with electric excitement prior to his arrival, and the eccentric unshaven manager, who started his coaching career with Mainz after playing the final 11 years of his career with the club, has lived up to the hype thus far. In the seven weeks since Klopp became Liverpool boss, the Reds have only lost once in posting three rather convincing away victories against Chelsea (3-1), Manchester City (4-1) and Southampton (6-1).
When Klopp took over, Liverpool sat in 10th place in the Premier League having collected just 12 points from eight fixtures. Six league matches later, Liverpool is up to sixth and only six points below league leader Man City.
However, Liverpool needed more than a run of results. The club also needed a new identity and stability, which is exactly what Klopp brought to Merseyside. He began to shift and reshape the culture of the storied English club by challenging the supporters and the players to build a stronger relationship with the club as a whole.
On the pitch, Klopp has the team playing attacking, pressing football that is earning impressive results, but his influence spreads far beyond the pitch itself. After his lone loss, which came in a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Anfield, Klopp publicly shared his disappointment at the sight of the Anfield faithful leaving early.
"Eighty-two minutes – game over," the disheartened German said after the match. "I turned around and I felt pretty alone at this moment."
The manager made a point not to blame the fans directly, but his message came through loud and clear: Klopp did not fear the fans. Instead, he would take them to task and hold them accountable – just like a manager holds players accountable.
Following his comments, the club traveled away to Manchester City and recorded a 4-1 victory. In the following fixture, vociferous fans greeted Klopp at Anfield for a Thursday night 1-0 victory over Bordeaux in the Europa League.
How did Klopp react to the fans? He appeared in Liverpool's program notes before the Swansea City game thanking the supporters and saying that the crowd "helped the players." Before achieving anything on English soil, the German still carried enough weight to point at supporters and single out the club's eroding culture.
"I hope we can produce another fighting performance that makes you proud of this team," the manager said in the pregame notes that cleverly placed the burden on himself and the team.
For some time, Liverpool needed its house sorted, and Klopp is proving to be the right architect for the redesign. Putting pressure on the fans is only one way the 48-year-old is ushering a new era of accountability at Liverpool. Oft-injured forward Daniel Sturridge pulled out of the clash against Bordeaux due to discomfort in his foot, which was not confirmed via a scan later. Clearly, Klopp did not approve.
"Your body has to learn to adapt to new intensities of training and in this time you have to learn what is serious pain and what is only pain," Klopp said in directing public comments toward Sturridge.
Two days later, the 26-year-old striker made a substitute appearance in the 1-0 win over Swansea, his first appearance under Klopp. On Wednesday, Sturridge got his first start under his new manager and scored a brace that helped turn the tide against Southampton in the Capital One Cup.
Perhaps most surprising about the run of results is that Klopp has yet to spend in the transfer market, which is considered an area of expertise for the media friendly manager. Klopp's starters for the 2013 Champions League final famously cost Borussia Dortmund a total of £28million ($42 million) in transfer fees.
Amazing as it may be to imagine, Klopp's Liverpool revolution has barely started. But already, the German appears to be in full control at Liverpool Football Club, which is exactly what the players, supporters and club needed. He is the best man for the job.