There are a few glaring similarities when it comes to Jurgen Klopp’s stints at Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund.
The charismatic German spent seven years at both clubs, before deciding to resign from both roles.
At Mainz, Klopp served as a player before taking the reins as manager, where he oversaw an excellent campaign that led to the club’s promotion to the Bundesliga in 2004. The German side remained in the top-flight under Klopp until 2007 when they were ultimately relegated.
Klopp stayed on despite this, but after failing to guide them to an immediate return, he resigned the following season and signalled an end to his seven-year stay in doing so – he departed as the club’s longest serving manager.
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In 2008, the charismatic boss was appointed as manager of Borussia Dortmund, where he led a sleeping giant to the Bundesliga title in 2011 and the DFB-Pokal – Klopp also won the DFL-Supercup and successfully wrestled German football back from a dominant Bayern Munich side.
Despite this, things went slightly array in the 2014/15 and Dortmund finished the campaign in seventh place, having spent the majority of the season languishing in the bottom half – Klopp announced his departure in April that same term.
It is intriguing to see that, in both instances, things ended badly on a footballing front for Klopp with both teams.
Liverpool supporters will feel on cloud nine right now and will probably tell you that they’d want to tie the German down to a lifetime contract, but Mainz and Dortmund fans would’ve said the same thing at a similar stage of their time with Klopp.
The seven-year aspect of Klopp’s previous stints is interesting.
He seems to build up a rock solid relationship with his players and the supporters, and could very easily have spent longer if he wanted to; it should be noted that he has always left on his own terms.
News of a potential sabbatical from football in 2022 for Klopp has been doing the rounds, which if it were to materialise, would mean that Klopp would also be leaving Liverpool seven years on from his appointment in 2015.
Very interesting. Having said that, there are a number of reasons why things will be different at Anfield, rather than his tenure ending on another damp note.
At Mainz, his team were relegation fodder with every chance that the best players would be poached, whilst there would always be a desire from someone as ambitious as Klopp to push on and achieve something bigger.
At Dortmund, Bayern Munich were the team in Germany – if they came calling, it would be an extremely rare case for a player to say no. That was where most of Germany’s national team players plied their trade, and just the place to be in general.
That left Klopp always up against it. His chances of success were twice dented when Bayern nabbed wonderkid Mario Gotze from under his nose, before snatching his talismanic No.9 Robert Lewandowski on a free transfer.
At Liverpool, that simply wouldn’t ever happen.
English football is vastly different. There is no Bayern Munich-type club. There’s no Real Madrid, no Barcelona, no Juventus. The likes of Crystal Palace can sit comfortably and tell the big hitters: “We don’t need to sell, and we’re not going to.”
Although there is always the prospect of Real Madrid or Barcelona swooping, Liverpool certainly are in no danger of losing their best players to a big domestic rival, which often leads to a significant shift in power and creates ill-feeling amongst supporters.
Whilst there are similarities, there are also plenty of differences to Klopp’s current job in comparison to his former roles. Liverpool certainly aren’t under the same pressures as Mainz and while the Premier League remains ultra competitive at the top, it does feel as though this Reds team will be challenging for the next few seasons. Even then, the chances of them slipping into seventh like Dortmund did, amid this era of Big Six dominance, are exceptionally slim.
Perhaps it’s just a case of unlucky number seven for Klopp, but there’s reason to hope he’ll stay a little longer on Merseyside.