In the post-Covid era, a notable phenomenon has emerged – a record number of employees voluntarily bidding farewell to their jobs. Scientists promptly labelled this trend “The Great Resignation”, encapsulating the introspective process of individuals re-evaluating their lives and opting for change.
The truly Greatest Resignation, however, took place last week, in Liverpool. I welled up watching Jürgen Klopp’s statement.
While it may be a tad belated to begin practising now, considering he won’t manage an English club again, the ‘ü’ in Jürgen is pronounced like the French ‘u’, by the way. Just say ‘ee’ (as in referee) and round your lips tightly while making the sound.
Bet you just tried it. And were surprised it worked. Sehr gut.
Jürgen Klopp stands among a select few who gracefully relinquish powerful positions, showcasing their intelligence by leaving on their own terms, in style, with impeccable timing. In theory, this is of course the preferred choice for everyone: leave while you’re loved. But if it were so easy, why is it so rare?
Also, acknowledging exhaustion in one of the most competitive, performance-driven environments should not come as a surprise. Yet the rarity of high-profile figures openly admitting to their finite resources raises the question: why aren’t we hearing more from individuals in high-stress jobs about the eventual need for a well-deserved time-out?
Too often managers, CEOs, and ministers carry on regardless, to other people’s detriment as well as their own, maybe for fear of coming across as weak.
So Klopp, fearless as usual, should receive at least as much recognition for the frankness of his announcement as for eight exceptional years at Anfield.
In Germany, clubs usually have a manager and a head coach. At Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05, for instance, Klopp could focus solely on how to win the next game. Difficult enough. With the Reds, as manager, there was even more responsibility. And he excelled.
Differences between English football and the Bundesliga, in Klopp’s own words, are pronounced. “It’s more intense. It’s more important for the people here if your club is winning or not.” He added, with his dazzling toothy grin: “The English people bet a lot more.”
The other Jürgen – Klinsmann – once gave the player’s view on this: “One of the reasons I had come to England was the passion of the crowds that I saw on German TV, watching the big Liverpool teams of the 1970s.” Elsewhere you had to develop an inner drive, he said. But “in England, you run 20mph automatically because of the crowd. You have a lot more drive from them to give it all you’ve got.”
Klinsi also recalled the advice he received on how to deal with the British press, which had branded him a diver. A friend told him: “When you meet the media, why don’t you take a backpack and pull a snorkel and goggles out of it?” The German media are sometimes perceived as brutal, yours truly are. Which isn’t always a bad thing, but most definitely adds to the (blood) pressure – and needs a reminder from time to time that journalists have the easier job by far.
And Klopp, with due respect for the role of the press as an institution, skilfully deflates reporters’ egos. In a memorable instance, a German journalist at a presser urged Klopp to refrain from cliche verbiage before he had started answering. Klopp’s response? “To come up with demands when it’s actually the first time I ever see you – impressive. What field are you in? Wildlife documentaries? Oh, sport… that’s sweet.”
My other favourite among the “best of” Klopp videos is the lost-in-translation-one, brain fog vs brain f***. A must-watch.
Speculation abounds regarding Klopp’s plans a year from now, after building a house in Wiesbaden with his wife, Ulla, and cherishing moments with his first grandchild, the newborn boy of his stepson, Dennis.
As well as to a rumour about the US national team, there are the three Bs: BVB Dortmund (zero chance), Bayern München (possible) and Bundestrainer (appealing to Klopp).
Whatever it will be, we get Kloppo back! At least for a while. And that’s fantastic news. He is one of a kind, charismatic, commonsensical, popular, humble, witty, full of self-mockery, and decent. Someone who’s all in, always, with the heart to inspire and energise a team, a stadium, a country. Even from the sidelines (although I still hope he listens to TNE’s Matt Kelly and goes into politics).
Klopp was the best ambassador we could have sent to the UK. And now, sad as it is for the Scousers, the normal guy needs a bit of a normal life. After that, Team Germany really needs him.