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I’ve been on the wrong side of Jurgen Klopp before – but he’s a good person

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Jurgen Klopp has come under fire for post-match comments directed at a reporter, and while it is an easy stick for opposition fans to beat him with, they are overlooking the obvious.

It is the nature of every football fan to believe that they not only support the best team, but also the most righteous club.

And so Klopp’s actions following defeat on Sunday represented a gift to many Man United supporters in that it allowed them to add the moral high ground to the place in the FA Cup semi-final their side had already secured.

The ammunition was provided by a testy post-match interview with international broadcaster Viaplay, in which Klopp was pushed on why his players struggled for intensity in extra-time at Old Trafford.

The German clearly felt that the answer was obvious given that his injury-ravaged squad had just come to the end of a run of nine games in just 30 days.

Still, it was hardly necessary to describe the line of questioning as ‘dumb’ before storming back toward the dressing room.

The interviewer, Niels Christian Frederiksen, has since shot down suggestions a jibe about his weight was made in the process, saying: “No that was not at all what he meant. I’m not overweight and if I were, he would never say that.

“That’s not how he is. It wasn’t meant like that. He’s not mean. He meant that I was unfit to ask questions.”

But, even if the situation is not quite as bad as it had initially been painted on social media, there was little justification for Klopp’s discourtesy.

This is not the first time this has happened, either, as this reporter can attest from personal experience.

It was after a disappointing 0-0 draw with Everton in March 2019 when the Liverpool manager directed his ire at me after being asked if he should have gone with four attackers to try and nick the game late on.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I’m really disappointed about your question. We don’t play PlayStation,” he angrily replied. “An extra attacker just to go wild? You think it’s like PlayStation; bring on an extra attacker and football changes? It’s not like that.

“We are offensive enough. Football doesn’t work like that. We don’t lose our nerve.”

Of course, Liverpool went on to lose the title by a single point despite winning all nine games following their stalemate at Goodison Park.

And I have since been prone to pointing out (with tongue firmly in cheek!!!) that Klopp spent the early part of 2019/20 pulling out late wins thanks to a willingness to use Divock Origi as a fourth man up top.

But, joking aside, the true point is that neither my own dressing down by Klopp or that suffered by a fellow reporter has changed my view that the Liverpool manager is, fundamentally, a good person.

There is no question he already regrets Sunday’s outburst in much the same way he has done past clashes with referees once the dust has settled on defeat.

And we should not forget that the demands on managers from broadcasters in the aftermath of matches have become increasingly ludicrous during his time at Anfield.

On Sunday, these exchanges will have comprised question after question about a defeat to Liverpool’s bitter rivals in which they conceded an equaliser three minutes from time, went ahead again in extra time, then still managed to lose at the death.

You would need the patience of a saint not to get irritable in that situation, and yet we expect that from elite-level football managers who have made it this far thanks to their abnormal levels of competitiveness.

That Klopp possesses this particular trait and yet manages to be, for the most part, so gregarious and warm is a fact that should be celebrated.

Instead, he faces accusations that ‘the mask has slipped’ from rival fans who have the luxury of not having their most testing professional moments broadcast to millions.

Perhaps the funniest aspect of the entire furore is that these moral failings are being pointed out by a fanbase in thrall to Sir Alex Ferguson, a man whose interactions with journalists could often range from cantankerous to downright vindictive.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Wednesday, March 6, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a press conference at the Stadion Letná ahead of the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg match between AC Sparta Praha and Liverpool FC. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, that only proves that Klopp will never win over rival supporters, no matter how graciously he might take even the bitterest of defeats.

Thankfully, the only fans whose opinions the manager truly cares about are Kopites, and their affection is guaranteed no matter what happens between now and May.