Liverpool duo Naby Keita and Sadio Mane have explained what makes Jurgen Klopp such an important and impressive coach, with his personal approach key to winning the admiration of the pair.
The mutual admiration between the manager and his squad is always clear to see, with the players going to the ends of the earth to produce the performance levels the coach demands.
In turn, he defends them to the hilt, encourages them to be the best they can be and has given them the platform to be successful at the very top of the game.
It takes a special kind of manager to bring all parts of the team together in this way, and the Reds’ African duo have explained exactly why Jurgen’s approach works so well, and which parts particularly won their respect.
“He is somebody that is full of life, he is somebody who makes us all responsible as players, which is very important for a player on the field,” said Mane in an interview with the club magazine.
“He is a coach who knows how to handle you off the field, too. Sometimes he can be hard with his players, but it’s for positive reasons and that’s helped us a lot on the field. It is quite impressive, in fact, if you got to know him to understand all of that.”
Keita agreed that it’s about the approachable and personable nature of Klopp’s own character which is vital, with communication and trust all-important.
“He’s always there to explain things to you, such as if you haven’t played the best in a game, which is hard for coaches to do.
“He communicates with us all equally and that’s what I really like about him. During training he will stop you and give you advice and explanations.
“He is a coach that gives you confidence and he is the motivating factor before a match, but you’ve also got to be motivated on the field.
“He’s always there for his players, he’s almost like a best friend but he’s a coach who can communicate with all his players.”
As well as the message being delivered right, it’s the responsibility and trust that Klopp places in his players which allows the squad to thrive, which isn’t limited to when the whistle blows for kick-off.
“I believe it’s the fact that he makes you responsible on and off the field,” continued Mane.
“I think that football is in the head but then you’ve got to transfer that to the body. He’s always there to be able to give you confidence. Overall for a player it’s all about confidence.”
Keita added that the responsibility and growth Klopp places such emphasis on is part of a player improving, which is always expected at a club like Liverpool.
“That’s coaching and he sees everything. I think I have now improved a lot, apart from my injuries which have kept me out of several matches. He’s somebody who communicates a lot and a coach who explains everything to all his players.”
It’s not just a direct ‘do this’ approach from Jurgen, it’s a complete explanation of how, and importantly, why.
The full buy-in from his players, from the way of playing to the levels of behaviour expected from them, is a core part of how the squad has grown and developed, and it’s clear that the squad respects that approach as much as they benefit from it.