English Premiership

A Red Devil spends the evening with Klopp

2017-11-10 08:18
Tashreeq Vardien (File)

Cape Town - Oh snap! I’m late.

An intended fifteen minute nap turned into an hour crash of exhaustion.

I guess this shows my lack of enthusiasm as I am about to spend an evening with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool fans. I was not keyed up at all, especially because the crest on my chest I prefer to don has a Red Devil engraved in it.

Yes, I am a Manchester United fan.

After a quick shower; I got myself ready for an interesting evening. Off I went for a one night only experience with the Liverpool manager hosted by Hout Bay United Football Community.

The community, as the club prefers to be known as, announced the event in order to raise awareness and funds. Hout Bay took the opportunity to host the 50-year-old while he, accompanied with his family, visited a friend in the Mother City during the international break.

The experience came at a price for many with tickets costing R2 000 which guaranteed you food and drinks, live music and if you're lucky, a signed Liverpool jersey by the man himself.

My 40 minute commute came to an end as I arrived before Klopp made it to the stage - a relief to say the least.

If you had the pleasure of attending a sporting event, you are well aware of the energy that surrounds the stadium. Walking into the Hout Bay Market, the venue for the event, there was already a buzz in the air. Everyone was fuelled with excitement.

I take my seat and moments later the MC welcomes Klopp to grace the stage.

Screams, applause, chants (in that order) as the German grabs a mic and takes his seat.

With the crowd not turning down the volume, Klopp smiles and proceeds to say, “Okay... we can do this all night.” The audience laughs and one-by-one gradually tame themselves by taking a seat.

Charming and charismatic already, what comes out of his mouth minutes later had me grinning from ear-to-ear.

“I heard someone boo me as I came inside? Must be a Manchester United supporter,” he says with wry smirk.

Klopp, now at Liverpool just over two years, previously managed Borussia Dortmund as well as Mainz 05 and was successful in both adventures.

He guided Mainz to a Bundesliga promotion and a UEFA qualification in 2005/06, a feat Hout Bay hopes to replicate in South Africa, with one day playing in the Absa Premiership.

“The answer is easy; to do it is even more difficult,” said klopp, after being asked how he guided Mainz to promotion.

“It all starts with a dream... If you dream and you’re ready to work for it and then it is possible. It took us (Mainz) 100 years to get to the first Bundesliga, so still a few years to come (for Hout Bay),” he laughs.

Klopp further stated that he was lucky enough to have a bunch of players who played with their hearts as they continually over-achieved in their quest.

“It’s not important to be the best, but it’s important to beat the best,” he said as the crowd cheered to the statement.

It is hard not to feel inspired when Klopp speaks as he is optimistic about football and life in general.

Klopp is known for his robust and heavy metal approach of the beautiful game but deems that his philosophy stems from having common sense.

“My managerial style? I hope no one falls asleep when I answer,” Klopp says, as he continues to charm the crowd.

“The most important skill in life is common sense. I’m not skilled in intelligence, but common sense I take to the highest level.

“I love to play entertaining football. I would rather have someone hit the cross bar than not shoot. I don’t like a victory with 80%.

“If you’re not completely exhausted, it’s a waste of time. I’m not the smartest manager in the world, but maybe the most passionate.”

And we have seen how “passionate” he can get when in the technical area, very animated to say the least.

Liverpool are currently occupying fifth place in the Premier League standings and much to popular belief, could have been further up the table if it were not for their derailing defence.

The Reds have conceded 17 goals in 11 matches (five wins, four draws and two defeats).

“I could never tell a player ‘you are not good enough’. If he's not good enough, well he’s in my team, it’s my fault,” said Klopp.

“As long as he is in my team, he is good enough.”

The German had the crowd laughing when he added: “All our centre-halves (defenders) are good enough. Whatever you think about, if they make mistakes, we should have solved (it) already before.

“All the defeats are my responsibility and all the wins, their responsibility. Easy deal, apart from Tottenham (Liverpool lost 4-1 to London side),” he says jokingly.

The Reds manager hopes of ending the Merseyside's league drought in the coming years, as the last time the club claimed the title was in the 1989/90 season.

“We have to improve, 100%. But we will,” he added.

“We are fine and the owners are happy. Liverpool is a fantastic club, and my aim is to win the Premier League with it.”

Klopp skimmed through memories of his time at Dortmund, where he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12. He also believes that Mario Gotze was the best player he ever coached, while Robert Lewandowski was the best player to improve under his tutelage.

More jabs were thrown at United with their “boring” football and at one point, even asked the crowd who Raheem Sterling was.

He really is a likable character and never too short of a joke or a smile.

After a very successful auction, which saw signed jerseys being sold for an astounding R19 000 - everyone rushed to steal a quick picture with the already Liverpool great.

I even took up the plunge to grab a memory but security was not having it as they quickly rushed him out of the building.

Safe to say, Klopp gained a fan in me.

The place began to slowly empty and I headed out knowing that the Premier League returns just under two weeks.

I got into my car, searched YouTube for a song and sang along, loud and proud...


Tashreeq Vardien works at Sport24 and is a paper basketball dustbin champion... Follow Tashreeq on Twitter.

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