Jurgen Klopp the footballing alchemist is a manager like no other

You look at Klopp in this mood and you realise that Liverpool could not have machine-tooled a manager more perfectly in sync with their character. The reason he became so adored in Mainz and Dortmund is that he brought not simply technical mastery to the job, but soul. Klopp’s connection with Liverpool also has an authenticity that cannot be confected. His unveiling in 2015 was stamped indelibly by his little tap on the “This Is Anfield” tunnel badge. Even when he fell short in the 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv, he was still filmed singing the “Allez, allez, allez” chant with bedraggled fans at 6am.

If you think their love for Klopp is exaggerated, just contrast his electrifying influence with the grim regression at Manchester United over the same seven years. While figures such as Jose Mourinho and Ralf Rangnick have only ever looked as if they are passing through, Klopp builds an impression of permanence, the sense of a project. His approach is one of total immersion, and it has propelled Liverpool to the undreamt-of heights of winning a title by 18 points and closing in on a quadruple that defies all known rules of endurance.

The consensus, until recently, was that few coaches of the modern era could hold a candle to Guardiola. Except Klopp has become the first to beat him 10 times. In the comparisons between two teams and two managers of generational brilliance, there is an argument that Klopp is now edging in front. The justification lies less in the numbers than in the strength of the bonds he has forged. At 54, Klopp has presided over three clubs and attained the status of a demigod at every one. He has never been a mere gun for hire. He is that rare breed, a true football alchemist, whose pomp we should relish while it lasts.

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