Six years ago, Jurgen Klopp took his Liverpool squad to the Kop to mark a 2-2 draw with West Brom. Who knew that would have been the catalyst for greatness?
Sunday, December 13, 2015. Just two months after taking charge at Anfield, Klopp led his side over towards the Kop end to join arms and take the acclaim following a 2-2 draw at the hands of West Brom, a result which saw Liverpool move up to ninth place in the league table.
At the time it was the subject of country-wide ridicule, including from within large pockets of our own support who were, at best, unsure how they felt about a last-gasp point seemingly being lauded in a manner akin to a cup triumph.
‘That’s not what we do here’ was the message from the regulars who had frequented Anfield for decades prior.
Fast-forward six years, and that somewhat bizarre sequence of events has become an almost iconic image in its own right.
It is something that transcends the mediocre point that it was and instead acted as a catalyst for the incredible moments that have ensued.
Liverpool have scored bigger and better last-minute goals since that night in December, but arguably none more significant.
Despite the initial scepticism, what Jurgen Klopp did that night set the tone for a bond with the supporters which has seen a record-breaking, drought-ending league title triumph and a historic sixth European Cup.
It wasn’t even the last time we’d see Divock Origi score in the 96th minute.
Contrary to popular belief at the time, Klopp wasn’t celebrating a draw with his actions, he was drawing attention to what was possible when the fans and players work in unison.
He was setting the tone for what was to come.
The German was building a culture that relied not just on the never-say-die attitude of his players, but the ever-growing connection with the fanbase.
There is perhaps no greater illustration of this than when Klopp made the bold decision to take on the supporters just a month prior to the home draw against West Brom.
It was a decision which in all reality could’ve gone either way given how it has worked for managers of big clubs in years gone by.
“I felt pretty alone in this moment,” was how he described his emotions after a noticeable section of the home crowd opted to leave eight minutes early while the team trailed 2-1 to Crystal Palace – another move which was initially met with cynicism from longstanding supporters.
Instead, the Kop bought into Klopp’s bollocking. Despite only being a matter of months into his tenure, the fans understood his reasons for holding them to account and things quickly changed.
Just as he requested in his first-ever press conference, they turned from doubters to believers.
The success that has followed since that night in December has been beyond our wildest dreams, and has been built largely upon dramatic late goals, upon fighting to the death and demonstrating the attributes of mentality monsters.
Klopp knew that this sort of culture wouldn’t have been possible in a world where seats were emptying while the side was still chasing a winner.
Tuesday, May 7, 2019. There were no such complaints when Klopp and his team of superstars joined arms once again, this time to soak in the sounds of You’ll Never Walk Alone following arguably the greatest night in Anfield’s 137-year history.
The spectacle of the occasion was the polar opposite of the comeback against mid-table West Brom, but the parallels between the two when it comes to Klopp’s emphasis on his and his players’ relationship with the supporters are still clear for all to see.
It’s a testament to the man and his achievements that he can be described as this generation’s Shankly without it coming across as an overstatement.
The success and culture that the German has generated will be etched into history forevermore.
The fist-pumps towards the Kop after a big win have become synonymous with the boss’ desire to amalgamate the power of the supporters with the brilliance of the players on the pitch to create an unstoppable force, and the results are hard to argue with.
So enjoy it. Soak this in. You might never see a manager or team of the like again.
There is every chance that Klopp’s reign at Liverpool will end at the culmination of his contract in the summer of 2024, and while part of his role over the next couple of years will involve laying the foundations for his successor, right now we are witnessing greatness that might never be replicated.
A team that won 35 out of 36 league games spanning 363 days. A team that produced an all-time best start to a league campaign across the top five European leagues.
A team that, crucially, made our dreams come true, delivering the 19th league title that we craved for three decades.
These are the days, my friends.
* This is a guest article for This Is Anfield by Adam Beattie. Follow Adam on Twitter, @beatts94.