As his Liverpool side prepares to face Chelsea on Friday Night Football, Jurgen Klopp tells Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves about his "emotional" first year at Anfield, his public persona and why there's more to his football philosophy than counter-pressing.
Jurgen Klopp promised to bring "emotional football" befitting of the club's storied history when he was unveiled as Liverpool boss amid fevered expectation.
Nearly 12 months into his tenure, a period during which he has delivered two cup finals - memorably beating former club Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League - and overseen a squad overhaul to raise hopes of a long-awaited top-four finish, the Anfield boss admits life on Merseyside has pulled at his heartstrings in return.
"It's been very interesting. Very challenging. Very emotional," Klopp said in an exclusive interview ahead of Friday's Stamford Bridge showdown, live on Sky Sports.
"There's already been a lot of emotional games - not just the Dortmund one. I've had emotional moments after big defeats and we've had those too, unfortunately.
"But we have created confidence and we believe in our strengths and that all happened in the last 11 months."
The enigmatic German with wild energy and wilder facial expressions became an instant Premier League draw when he arrived in England last October.
But while the man who once banged the drum for "heavy-metal football" says he is unlikely to temper celebrations that have seen him lose and even shatter his trademark glasses, Klopp insists that behind his demanding pitchside persona is a coach keen to cultivate trust.
"When I came here nobody really knew me, it was all about rumour - 'He's very emotional on the sidelines, it's all about counter-pressing'. It's the same with the players; now I know much more. We really enjoy working together.
"When the players go home, I can't tell them what to do so you need to create an atmosphere of trust. I don't want to think, 'What are they doing now? Do I need to call them?'
"I've actually become much calmer than I was. I'm not excited in every second. Yes, I'm involved in games - I will not stop - but it's in moments. Life is too short not to celebrate nice moments!"
It has taken time to get used to the scrutiny of England's top flight but Klopp insists his Reds squad has become a tight-knit group.
"From outside in football, little issues like, 'How could he leave him out?' can be made big. It's a little more intense in this country. But I don't care what people outside think, I just care about moulding a group.
"I've thought sometimes about what I like about football and it's playing together. When you play sports like tennis you're alone and that's a good school for life but it's also a good school for life to bring your best and make those around you better too; helping others in difficult moments."
Klopp's tactics have defined him almost as much as his touchline exuberance, but though his gameplan centres on the Gegenpress - an evolved way of winning the ball back quickly to counter the counter - he is keen to emphasise the adaptability of a Liverpool side that eased to an eye-catching 4-1 win over champions Leicester last time out.
"The pressing game is a part of it but there are different stages," he said. "When you start building a team and a style of play you have to start with the basics. It's a process and that's the only problem I have sometimes in football - that a process take time.
"It's not only high pressure and counter-pressing. We're a ball-possession team but it makes sense that when you have the ball and lose it, you have an idea of what you can do to get it back. It's a complex game, football - one big question - and you need to have plenty of answers."
Liverpool - currently sixth in the Premier League table - have also beaten Arsenal in a promising start to the campaign only pockmarked by a 2-0 loss at Burnley. That surprise result, Klopp believes, is a reminder to not linger too long over statistics.
"Adam Lallana ran 13km (against Leicester), James Milner is a player who only feels good when he's run more than 13km but it's not about more, it's about right.
"I prefer, for development, to lose a game and know why more than winning a game when I've no idea how. In the moment it feels better but for the long-term it's not. I know why we lost to Burnley - it was clear. Everything was created, prepared but - bam! - We didn't play the last pass. We lost our nerve.
"So it's not just about intensity, it's about doing the right thing in the right moment - timing's the most important thing in football."
By coincidence, Klopp's first Premier League win came at Stamford Bridge and while he is wary of the physicality of Antonio Conte's side, the mood is one of confidence.
"Last season Chelsea were quite direct, didn't have much confidence," Klopp said. "They're still an unbelievably physical side but they have a good manager and they've brought in (N'Golo) Kante, one of the best challengers in the league.
"My job is to create a plan to not let them go through. We never lose a game beforehand; we always think we have a chance."
Source: Sky Sports
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