My name is Jurgen N. Klopp – the ‘N’ stands for normal. It doesn’t really, it stands for Norbert. That was just a conversational technique my friends and I used to refer to as ‘oiling the works’ back in Freudenstadt – a joke if you will.
Feel free to use that one on your nearest and dearest at a forthcoming family engagement. I’m a man of simple pleasures, I like to laugh, I enjoy Artisan mezze platters and in case you weren’t aware, I’m rather partial to the gentleman’s pastime of Association Football.
I like my football how I like my craft beer – full bodied and potent with a crisp finish. This is why I insist on passing a can of Ironic Tyrannosaurus IPA round the dressing room prior to kick-off.
The soundtrack to the players’ preparation is of utmost importance as well. Some days, I order Zeljko Buvac to dust off my old Kraftwerk vinyls and on others, you might find us massaging our aural cavities with cuts from a Jean Michel Jarr bootleg cassette (my compatriot Emre Can now refuses to get out of his car until he’s finished listening to the full 39-minute version of Oxygène.)
David Guetta pumping through a pair of Dre-Beats is strictly out of bounds and is the sort of indulgence reserved for the simpletons of this world such as Jonjo Shelvey.
I like to round off our pre-match ritual with half an hour of ‘free-flow sensory play.’ This gives my boys the opportunity to express themselves creatively before replicating that state of mind on the pitch. The exercises vary from lad-to-lad; for example, Lucas is partial to a spot of avant-garde poetry whilst Sadio Mane once painted a watercolour of a horse that was so beautiful it made Simon Mignolet weep uncontrollably.
Of course, James Milner is exempt to this practice as anything more than a mug of Yorkshire Tea tends to overstimulate him. Our Sports Science consultant Barry Drust tends to just lock him in a room with nothing but a glass of orange squash and The Archers omnibus for company. He’s a good boy, our Milly, unlike Adam and Jordan.
Since they became the faces of Nivea – aside from boasting fabulous complexion – they swan about town as if they are the Beethoven and Bach of Merseyside. I draw that comparison because they were, in my opinion, the rogues of 18th century German mainstream composing – their renegade use of G minor as a crescendo mechanism is quite frankly, unsettling.
Last week, Jordan changed the fluid 4-2-3-1 false 9 system I had meticulously drawn up on my tactics flip chart to a rigid – and quite frankly, prehistoric – 4-3-1-2. Needless to say, someone was not welcome to join the table for our activated grains and bone marrow broth that day.
I believe I’m finally getting through to them, though. When they returned from England duty, I heard them discussing some “great tits” they’d seen in Bournemouth. I was delighted to hear that they’d used their time away to soak up the sights of Dorset’s largest avian sanctuary. We’re all going down there at the weekend and – presuming they snapped up a couple of season passes – I’m keen to see what all the fuss is about.
During the international break, my coaches and I were afforded the opportunity to spend some much-needed one-to-one time with our defenders. Dejan Lovren is famous for his sense of humour and he gave us all a hearty laugh after quipping that we should do a session on man marking. What’s the point in learning how to effectively defend a set piece if you aren’t fit? I suggested he run another ten laps of Melwood instead.
Laughter is such an important ingredient in my recipe for success and this is exemplified in the eclectic range of media found in my Sky Planner. I dare you to browse through my library of natural history and Che Guevara documentaries without stumbling across a Withnail & I or equivalent betwixt.
My players know that I am a friend first and a manager second and they are always welcome to visit my home where I have a well-lit patio and rich espresso dutifully waiting for them.
As I write this, I am savouring the final drag of my last Sobranie Black Russian before my attention turns to preparing for our visit to Bournemouth. I take my obiligation of sharing a post match bottle of red with my opposite number very seriously but only discovered this evening that Eddie Howe is old enough to drink.
Fear not, I’ve sent Ulla to Aldi for something cheap, an uncultivated palette such as his will never notice the difference.