Liverpool fans calling for Jürgen Klopp's head, as Liverpool is heading into yet another trophy-less season. Oh boy. So much for YNWA. I wonder how many of us really know the manager well enough. From his history, do we expect him to bring instant success to the club?
As we all know, Klopp's first managerial stint started at Mainz. When he took over in mid season during the 2000-2001 campaign, Mainz was fighting to avoid relegation. He had 12 games to save the team. Winning the 6 out of the first 7 games in charge, he saved Mainz from relegation with 1 game to spare.
2001-2002 was his first season in charge, Mainz became the surprise team of the league turning from relegation fodder to one of the favorites to be promoted to the Bundesliga. The entire season was a revelation for their fans, with Mainz having a seven point lead at the table at one stage. Then the team began to crash like falling cards at the last three games. Mainz only needed 3 points from the last 3 games to gain promotion. Despite drawing the first 2, they hung on to a promotion place at Matchday 34, their final game of the season where another draw would suffice.
Mainz lost the last game 1-3 to Union Berlin at home and missed promotion by 1 point.
Klopp picked the team up and tried for promotion in the following season. Again, Mainz was a contender for promotion on Matchday 34, the deciding final game. They were up against Eintracht Frankfurt for the final promotion spot. This time, they did well to beat Eintracht Braunschweig 4-1 at home and had one hand on promotion until late goals from Frankfurt in their match nicked it from them.
Mainz missed promotion in the 2002-2003 season by a single goal difference.
Once again, Klopp had to pick the team up again and had another go in the 2003-2004 season. Third time lucky, Mainz finally got promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time in the club's history.
Despite having limited resources, Klopp kept Mainz in top flight for 3 seasons before getting relegated. That was some feat, if you consider how small the club was back then, with a stadium capacity smaller than the capacity of the Marina Bay Floating Platform in Singapore. He stayed on with the club but failed to achieve promotion the following season, before resigning from the position. The entire city held a farewell party against Klopp's wish but he eventually relented and attended, leaving with tears in the end.
Most of you are likely to be more familiar with Klopp's story at Borussia Dortmund, which wasn't too dissimilar to Mainz. Though a big club, Dortmund was in a state similar to the Liverpool side Klopp eventually took over. It had serious financial issues, an aging side playing uninspiring football and fans who had lost their passion. Klopp's adventures with Dormund had its downs as well as some glorious ups. Like the supporters of Mainz, BVB's yellow wall stood by Klopp through the ups and downs. Are the Kopites willing to do the same or will they collapse at the first hit like what it seems at the moment?
Klopp may not the most astute manager around. He may not be the best tactician, neither is he immune to errors. However, I see an honest, hardworking manager who is willing to admit his mistakes and improve. He is one of the very few managers who manage to recover from devastating failures and emerge stronger each time. Call me a hipster if you want but for me, I cannot name another manager I prefer to lead the club I support.