Jürgen Klopp, never one to hide a smile, is smiling more than ever these days. After a dismal season last year with his club of seven years, Borussia Dortmund, Mr. Klopp is winning again, in his new job with FC Liverpool in the English Premier League.
Liverpool recently defeated title favorite Manchester City and the star-studded lineup at FC Chelsea. And even though his team underperformed at last week’s away match in Newcastle, Mr. Klopp’s personality is winning him plenty of new fans every day on the island.
He has stabilized the team, moving it from the tenth position in the standing to the eighth. Of the seven games played so far this season in the Premier League, Liverpool won three, tied two and lost two.
The 48-year-old coach has learned to prevail in the rough-and-tough world of soccer. His 18 years with FSV Mainz 05 – as both a player and a coach – shaped him more than any other experience. He shot 52 goals as a striker for Mainz in the second division, and a courageous decision by FSV manager Christian Heidel later turned the injured player into one of Germany’s most popular coaches.
As one of the youngest coaches in the Bundesliga, Mr. Klopp managed to keep his team in the second division in 2001, before leading FSV Mainz into the first division in 2004.
Mr. Klopp is a troubleshooter. He is accessible to the club’s employees and players, and his people skills are a key component of his success. He talks to his players and interacts with them as individuals. He reacts irritably and impulsively when players behave disparagingly. He expects them to approach fans, even when they lose.