Jordon Ibe has been the player most on the receiving end of some of Jurgen Klopp‘s unique approaches to man-management in these opening months of the German’s reign at Anfield.
Ibe was the subject of Klopp’s ire when he wasn’t ready to be subbed on in the new manager’s opening game at Tottenham, which resulted in the first showing of a Klopp slap for the then-teenager post-match.
“He meant it in a good way, I think,” says Liverpool’s no. 33.
“He does it for encouragement: to get you going. He’s slapped me three or four times now! I’m not the only one, though. Clyney too: I think he got it the worst after one game. There was a six-second Vine of it; you should have seen Clyney’s face!”
Recently having turned 20, Ibe is maturing under Klopp’s guidance and explains how the new manager had warned the squad of his ‘demon’ side.
“He told us at the beginning that he’s got that in him – to be like a demon. That was the word he used, ‘demon’.”
From those early moments on the receiving end of Klopp’s ‘demon’, Ibe has had his fair share of post-match hugs too, not least after his first goal for the club against Rubin Kazan.
“One on one, he’s really good. He’s building relationships,” says Ibe in an interview with the Independent’s Simon Hughes.
“The older players, you can see the respect [they have for him]. With the younger ones like me he’s a father figure. He’s cool, you know? He understands. On the pitch you don’t feel any pressure.”
The boss doesn’t get overly friendly with the squad though, ensuring they know who’s in charge.
“If there’s a message he wants to get across, he’ll let you know and it might be with swear words. There is a boundary. We know he’s the boss.”
Ibe also explains how much the manager emphasises work rate off the ball, and the importance of the final 10 minutes of games.
“The thing that’s in his heart is the work off the ball: winning tackles. From the youngest player to the oldest player in the team, he’s given them freedom. Say I might lose the ball four times, I won’t hear anything from him, unless I don’t work to get it back.
“He says the last 10 minutes is the most crucial part of the game. Maybe that’s why he’s mentioned fans leaving. We need to build on the emotion and get them excited – get them to stay.”
The England under-21 international speaks also of Klopp allowing players to play without pressure, motivating them: “We can make history. The manager, he helps make us believe.”
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