New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described himself as “The Normal One” as he faced the media for the first time following his appointment as successor to Brendan Rodgers.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho famous described himself as “a special one” in his first press conference in English football in 2004, earning him the nickname ‘The Special One’. But Klopp, 48, told a packed room of journalists at Anfield: “I don’t want to describe myself. I’m a totally normal guy. I’m the Normal One.”
“I am a normal guy from the Black Forest. I don’t compare myself with genius managers in this club’s history,”added Klopp, who led Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final appearance.
“It’s cool that you’re looking for that, but it’s not my part to think about that. I don’t think any manager starts by saying that they want to be a legend. I was a very, very average player. I was at a special club in Germany with Mainz 05 and then had a great opportunity to take Dortmund for seven years. Now I’m here and I hope to enjoy my work.”
The former Borussia Dortmund head coach was appointed on Thursday on a three-year contract following the dismissal of Rodgers, who was sacked last Sunday after three and a half years at the club. In an interview with the club’s in-house television channel, LFC TV, Klopp described the job as “the biggest challenge… in the world of football”.
His first game at the helm will be a trip to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on 17 October. Liverpool won the last of their 18 league titles in 1990 under the stewardship of Kenny Dalglish. Rodgers led them to a second-place finish in 2014, but they finished sixth last season and are currently in 10th place in the table with 12 points from eight games.
Klopp introduced a style of high-octane football during his time at Dortmund, leading the club to two Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Champions League final, and he pledged that Liverpool would play at “full throttle”.
“Winning is important, but so is how you win and how you play the game,” he said. “I believe in a playing philosophy that is very emotional, very fast and very strong. My teams must play at full throttle and take it to the limit every single game. It is important to have a playing philosophy that reflects your own mentality, reflects the club and gives you a clear direction to follow. Tactical of course, but tactical with a big heart.”
He added: “Liverpool has extraordinary supporters and Anfield is a world renowned home, with an incredible atmosphere. I want to build a great relationship with these supporters and give them memories to cherish. I hope we can feed off each other’s energy and that we take this journey together.”
Klopp confirmed that his assistants at Dortmund, Zeljko Buvac and Peter Krawietz, would join him at Liverpool. He described his appointment as “one of the best moments in my life” and said Anfield was “the most historical place” in world football.
He also thanked Liverpool’s American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) for appointing him and said he was happy to work with their transfer committee, which oversees the club’s recruitment strategy. “It was absolutely no problem between FSG and myself,” he said. “We talked about this. It’s nothing. If two clever, intelligent guys sit at a table and you both want the same, what can be the problem?”
Klopp’s contract is reported to be worth £5 million ($7.7 million, 6.8 million euros) per year, rising to £7 million with bonuses. “In Jurgen Klopp we have appointed a world-class manager with a proven track record of winning and someone who has the personality and charisma to reignite this football club and take the team forward,” said Liverpool chairman Tom Werner.
“He possesses all the qualities we are looking for in a manager – he is a strong, inspirational leader, who has a clear philosophy of high energy, attacking football. Critically, he is also a winner and someone who can connect with and enthuse our supporters.”