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Klopp culture: A look at the Liverpool manager’s extraordinary run

When Jurgen Klopp calls time on his career as Liverpool manager at the end of the 2023-24 English Premier League season, he will leave the club a legend.

Klopp at the Carabao Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea two weeks ago. He fielded what was effectively an Under-22 squad. (Getty Images)

It would be difficult to name another manager who has led a club through such a wildly joyous ride. It’s not just about success, though the German manager has had plenty of that. It’s also about the way he has led the club.

When Liverpool — once the unrivalled powerhouse of English football — won the 2019-20 Premier League title under Klopp, it was their first league triumph since 1990. They did it by setting the English top-flight record for most consecutive wins, second-longest unbeaten streak, and second-largest points tally in English top-flight history.

Think back to the club’s blistering campaign at the UEFA Champions League in 2019, the club’s first European title win in 14 years. It is easily one of the most thrilling, high-octane title runs in the history of the European Cup, including a magical 4-0 comeback in the second leg of the semi-final against Barcelona, after having lost the first leg 3-0.

Who does that? Klopp and his men, that’s who. Klopp, with his flowing mane and his toothsome grin radiating energy and joy from the sidelines. Klopp, with his audacious, fearless approach to football, represented perfectly by the playing philosophy he made famous — gegenpressing.

On and off the pitch, winning and losing, he maintains an infectious sense of joy and warmth.

Perhaps there is a direct connection with the kind of person Klopp is and the greatest legacy he will leave behind at Liverpool: the next generation of Liverpool footballers, honed through a superb academy system that the coach overhauled.

Perhaps its best-known success has been Trent Alexander-Arnold, the local boy who joined the academy at age six and is now one of the world’s best defenders. There is also Curtis Jones, who joined at nine and now, at 23, is fighting hard to make the Liverpool midfield marshall position his own.

And two weeks ago, on February 25, at the Carabao Cup final where Liverpool defeated Chelsea, we got to see a glimpse of the future, as Klopp fielded what was effectively an Under-22 squad.

There was the Irish Conor Bradley, 20, who joined Liverpool’s academy at nine, taking on first Alexander-Arnold’s role on the right of defence, then moving up to the right wing with great effect. Bobby Clark, the 19-year-old who orchestrated the midfield for the Reds, brought into the club’s academy as a 16-year-old from Newcastle United’s youth system. And James McConnell, a constant threat in the box at just 19 (he joined the academy at 14). Along with 21-year-old Jarell Quansah, who joined Liverpool as a five-year-old and is seen as the next Virgil van Dijk, and 18-year-old striker Jayden Danns (who almost scored), Liverpool played six academy graduates in that final.

There is good reason to believe that before the season is out, we will also see a 19-year-old called Oakley Cannonier, whose left foot is as good as his right, and who, at youth level, is a prolific striker. In 2019, he became famous as the ball boy with the quick reflexes who gave the ball to Alexander-Arnold after it went out of play during that famous Champions League second leg semi-final against Barcelona. Alexander-Arnold immediately passed the ball for Divock Origi to score the fourth and decisive goal.

These are Klopp’s boys, the future of Liverpool, and the brilliant manager’s finest legacy.

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