Jurgen Klopp: A Necessary Kind of Difference

Jurgen Klopp enjoyed Adam Lallana’s stoppage-time winner at Carrow Road and he galloped onto the pitch to celebrate with his players. It was one of those moments which is rather charming and it was a rare example of football showing its human side.

Nevertheless, it provoked some piety. Norwich officials weren’t happy and that reliable cast of social media kill-joys feigned offence at a manager leaving his technical area.

Klopp seems to attract that sort of sneering and ever since the German arrived in this country he’s been dismissed as gimmicky and jingoistic, and of affecting the idiosyncrasies with which he’s long been associated.

It’s quite sad.

Norwich fans can be forgiven, because nobody likes to lose in the manner that they did and Lallana’s late volley was a savage gut-punch. But for others, with no tribal loyalties one way or the other, to take issue with that moment was deeply depressing.

Spontaneity is good, especially now. The game can be terribly sterile at times and its personalities are frequently extremely two-dimensional. Everyone behaves in an entirely formulaic way and, if you didn’t know better, you could be forgiven for thinking that football often follows a rigid script. Goals are scored, games are won, cliches are thrown around.

Klopp represents a endearing sort of madness, he’s an emotional character who seems unconcerned with convention. It is a fine line between authentic flamboyance and artificial charisma, but he never really strays beyond that boundary and he’s breathed a bit of fresh life into a landscape which had become rather stale. He’s the antidote to the eyebrows-down personality of a Jose Mourinho, or the haughty dismissiveness of Louis van Gaal, and so its galling to listen to him being attacked for - essentially - being himself.

When managers win games in the dying seconds, we should want them to respond exactly as Jurgen Klopp did. Practiced indifference and stylised ennui are terrible evils in what, ultimately, is a passionate sport.

The game must never forget that and it must, within reason, kick out against characters who ultimately make it richer.

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