WALTERS: KLOPP NOT ALL SMILES BEHIND SCENES
BEHIND Jurgen Klopp’s joker’s mask lies a man of steel.the German master of Anfield might like a laugh when the cameras zoom in on him – but don’t be fooled. Former Liverpool winger Mark Walters has seen and heard enough during the past five years of Klopp’s reign to know the happy-clappy boss who parades in front of the press has a decided edge once the dressing-room doors are closed.
Walters played under
Graeme Souness and thinks Klopp could be equally tough, especially if someone messes with team spirit. He said: “Jurgen
Klopp comes across as very jovial, a bit of a joker.
He’s very amiable and personable – that’s his public face. But I understand he’s deadly serious about his football. He knows his stuff.
“When he first joined...when they were losing he used it as a learning experience. He had to get to grips with the players he had, finding out which ones he could trust, which ones could do what he wanted, which ones couldn’t or wouldn’t.
“I always remember what happened to Mamadou Sakho (below). He looked like he could be the answer long beforevirgil van Dijk was signed – a proper centre-back.
“But he fell out with the manager ahead of a pre-season tour to America – I think he turned up late for the plane – and there were another couple of incidents.
“In the next transfer window, that was it – he was sent out on loan to Crystal Palace. Even though Sakho was one of the better defenders Klopp didn’t care – out he went. In that respect, he’s very much like
Graeme Souness, who I played for at Rangers. Graeme would treat all the players the same. It didn’t matter to him if you were 18 or a seasoned international – you were both getting the same treatment.
“Graeme had grown up during a time when you had to know how to look after yourself. You don’t necessarily associate that with Klopp.you see him with a smile but I think there’s a ruthlessness about him that’s hidden. Discipline is important to him.you need that, particularly when you are trying to win things.
Everyone has to be pulling in the same direction.
“So don’t be fooled by the act. Klopp has instilled discipline into that side.”
■ ‘Wingin’ it’ by Mark Walters is out now. For further details please go to: www.pitchpublishing.co.uk