Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been in charge of the Reds for just over five years, guiding the club to a first league title in three decades as well as a sixth Champions League crown.
When he arrived, the Anfield club was in a slump. Brendan Rodgers was sacked after the Reds finished sixth in 2014/15 – a far cry short of their surprise title charge the season prior which was infamously cruelled by Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea.
A new feature-length documentary, The End of the Storm, goes behind Klopp’s time in charge of the Reds, and shares the inside story of the drought-breaking 2019/20 Premier League victory.
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The film’s superb access to the club offers an incredible insight into the mindset of that thrilling – and at times frustrating – campaign. Stars like Sadio Mane and captain Jordan Henderson open up on the joy and pain of a COVID-19-affected year, and club great Kenny Dalglish speaks candidly too.
But perhaps most interesting of all is where it all began – Klopp’s first game in charge of the club.
The German mastermind revealed for the first time how he knew the club needed to make significant change before a ball had even been kicked.
It wasn’t the playing line-up, or backroom staff, or any of the usual areas to address. It was the design of the bright red warm-up shirts that reminded him of Star Trek!
Klopp told the documentary: “My first game at Tottenham, I watched the other team warming up. Tottenham, they’re good looking, dark blue (jerseys), Harry Kane, Dele Alli – everything looks set.
“I turn around and wow, we all look like Captain Picard!
“The wrong sizes, they didn’t fit really the players. I was not happy. I thought how can you be, when the game didn’t even start (yet), already the second best?”
“So the next day I asked for a meeting. I said: ‘Come on, what can we change immediately?’. I really think that these kind of things are important.”
It’s a fascinating insight into the mindset of the coach, and one that seems a little off-brand given he is more usually known for his emotional antics and hugs than his tinkering over shirt sizings!
“I’m not a control freak. I just think things should happen in a specific way.”
That ‘specific way’ has seen the Reds almost totally overhauled. Just look at the squad for Klopp’s first game on October 17, 2015 at Tottenham’s former ground White Hart Lane.
Simon Mignolet was in goals. Nathaniel Clyne, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, and Alberto Moreno made up the defence.
Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, and Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho comprised a three-man midfield with Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, and the versatile James Milner in attack.
It’s almost unrecognisable compared to today’s Liverpool side, or the one which claimed the Premier League last season.
Origi and Milner are the only two players remaining on Liverpool’s books.
A look at the bench for that game shows depth was thin to say the least: Adam Bogdan, Kolo Toure, Joe Allen, Jerome Sinclair, Joao Carlos Texiera and Connor Randall.
The match finished 0-0 – not a bad effort given Spurs would go on to enjoy a strong campaign.
Klopp says: “We had some problems. We had to solve them. I needed help, of course. We had to find good defenders, good strikers, good midfielders.”
The money flowed from owners FSG. Transfer records were broken – though just as often bargain buys became big-name stars under Klopp’s tutelage. These days, not many stars from rival teams would break into the Liverpool first XI too easily. He doesn’t just have ‘good’ defenders, strikers and midfielders – he boasts world-class stars across the park.
It’s a far cry from 2015.
As Klopp said in his first interview after signing for the Reds: “History is great but it’s only to remember. Now we have the possibility to write a new story.”
It’s been one hell of a story so far – and The End of the Storm tells it beautifully.
The documentary is showing in selected cinemas this weekend. Watch the trailer HERE