With Klopp’s announcement that he will leave Dortmund, we look back at what, exactly, went wrong for the manager
Jürgen Klopp announced today that he will bid auf wiedersehen to Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season, marking the close of the club’s painstaking 2014-2015 campaign and the beginning of a whirlwind of rumors about where he’ll go next.
We can only guess where the beleaguered 47-year-old manager is headed (Real Madrid? Manchester City? Bournemouth?), but he’s apparently headed somewhere: “I am not tired. I may look tired, but I am not. I am 0.0% tired,” Klopp said at a news conference, before adding that he hasn’t “had contact with any other clubs,” but isn’t planning a sabbatical, either.
In the meantime, while we wait for the rumor mill to grind into gear and “unnamed sources” to find their way to the nearest tabloid office, we thought it’d be the perfect time to figure out what went so dreadfully wrong for Klopp at Dortmund this season. Uli Hesse dug into the topic in his recent article for Issue 05, “There Have Been a Few Complaints.” The below excerpt was written at a time when Klopp’s departure from Dortmund was still unthinkable — but even then, it was clear that the decision to leave would be his, and his alone.
JÜRGEN KLOPP is a tracksuit manager because he understands coaching as an athletic activity. He covers almost as much ground during a game as his players, celebrates goals with the exuberance of a fan, and protests refereeing decisions with every limb at his disposal. A suit would only obstruct such expressive body language.
Many people love him because he wears his heart on his sleeve. But of course what they mean is that they love him when he rejoices (flying through the air with fists pumping) or frets (veins bulging and eyes protruding). During the first half of the season, though, there was another—equally emotional but less entertaining—Klopp.
As yet another stupid goal went in or another golden opportunity went begging, his shoulders sagged and his chin dropped to his chest. He had never hid his joy or his anger on the sidelines; now he didn’t hide his desperation. He sometimes looked so shattered, even forlorn, that in the wake of the Frankfurt match (which saw Dortmund tumble into last place) his former player Patrick Owomoyela, now a pundit, said, “At the moment he comes across as quite helpless and defensive. I don’t think he would be above saying, ‘Well, maybe I’ve done all I could do here, and now somebody else must come and help.’”
That Owomoyela hinted at the unthinkable—that Klopp might step down—tells you how dramatic the situation is. However, it also tells you how untouchable the coach’s position still is, despite an unprecedented string of defeats. Because not for one second did any observer seriously believe the club would fire Klopp, nor was there a moment when the fans turned on him (or his team). After all, Klopp couldn’t do anything about all those injuries, and he couldn’t bring back Lewandowski. What he could do was make changes on the pitch, and he had done so.
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