New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he is ‘the Normal One’ and is not setting out to join the ranks of Anfield greats.
In a direct response to a question about Jose Mourinho’s “Special One” quip when he arrived for his first spell with Chelsea, the self-deprecating German played down his reputation as one of Europe’s leading coaches.
However, he then proceeded to ambitiously set himself the target of winning the Premier League title within four years.
Klopp’s arrival as Brendan Rodgers’ replacement is a real coup for owners Fenway Sports Group and fans are already hailing it as the beginning of a great new era — something the new boss was keen to temper.
“I am a normal guy from the Black Forest. I don’t compare myself with these genius managers from the past,” he told a packed press conference.
“Not one of these great managers said in his first press conference ‘my target is I want to be a legend at the end of my time here’.
“This is a great club because of many good decisions in the past, good players, brilliant players, now we have to work in the present.
“Twenty-five years ago (Liverpool’s last title) is a long time. In this time all people have tried to get better, to improve, to take the next title.
“But history is only the base for us. It is all the people are interested in but you don’t take history in your backpack and carry it with you for 25 years. We can wait for it but I don’t want to say we can wait 20 years.
“If we sit here in four years I think we’ll have won one title — I’m pretty sure.” While Klopp has set himself that ambitious target, he was keen not to overburden his new squad — of which he is confident provide him with most of the tools to do his job — with that expectation.
After enjoying an unprecedented run of success from the 1970s right through to 1990, Reds fans are desperate to end their title drought and believe Klopp is the man to do it.
The German wants to harness that hope and optimism to push the team forward but insists it will take time to turn around things at a club which has finished second just three times in 24 years.
“This is one of the biggest problems you have here, maybe on the island (the UK),” he added.
“For sure the Premier League is one of the most difficult leagues because five, six, seven clubs can be the champion and at the end only the one can be the champion and all the others are disappointed.
“The most important thing for the development is the start. This would be a really good moment for a restart.
“It is only important we play our own game, let the players feel the confidence and the trust of the people.
“They have to think they can reach the expectations of all the people, of all the fans, of the press.
“If someone wants to help Liverpool they have to change from doubters to believers.
“We have to start anew and see what happens this year.” Klopp dismissed suggestions he cannot work with the club’s transfer committee.
The existing set-up, implemented by owners Fenway Sports Group to ensure some sort of continuity with signings, was a constant frustration for Rodgers.
However Klopp, used to a similar structure at former club Borussia Dortmund, has no such issues.
“It is a really crazy discussion I heard about,” he said when asked about the criticism the transfer committee — comprising the manager, chief executive Ian Ayre, FSG president Mike Gordon, director of scouting Dave Fallows, chief scout Barry Hunter and director of technical performance Michael Edwards.
“It was not a problem for 10 seconds. We talked about it, of course, but I am not an idiot.
“For me it is enough to have the first and the last word, the middle we can discuss.
“We only want to discuss about very good players, it is discussing on the highest level.
“I am not a genius. I don’t know more than the rest of the world.
“I need the other people to get the perfect information and when we have this we will sign the player or sell a player.” Klopp revealed he first began to think about the prospect of being Liverpool manager when he visited Anfield for the first time in a pre-season friendly in 2014.
Asked about whether that trip had put the idea in his head, he said: “Yes. Of course. I am not a dreamer in this way but I am a football romantic.
“I love the stories, the histories. Anfield is one of the best places in the football world and it was my first time at Anfield and I came in and thought about how it would be [to be manager].
“Now I am here. I am a really lucky guy.”
For his part, Ayre believes Klopp is the prefect fit for Liverpool.
“When we started the search it was important we found someone who we believed could bring success to the club, who could take on the size, the might and the ambition of the club,” he added.
“Jurgen ticks those boxes. When you spend time together, there is a connection and an understanding of the culture of this club.
“It was good to feel that from Jurgen that he understood the size and ambition of the club.”
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