LIVERPOOL: New Anfield manager Jurgen Klopp has insisted he is “the normal one” and is not setting out to join the ranks of Anfield greats.
Klopp charmed the local media after agreeing a three-year contract worth up to £18m. His arrival in the Premier League overshadowed the day’s other managerial change which saw ex-West Ham boss Sam Allardyce appointed to fill the vacancy at Sunderland left by the departure of Dick Advocaat.
Klopp, in a direct response to a question about Jose Mourinho’s ‘Special One’ quip when he arrived for his first spell with Chelsea, the German played down his reputation as one of Europe’s leading coaches.
However, he then proceeded to ambitiously set himself the target of winning the Premier League title within four years.
Klopp’s arrival as Brendan Rodgers’s replacement is a coup for owners Fenway Sports Group and fans are already hailing it as the beginning of a great new era – something the new boss was keen to temper.
“I am a normal guy from the Black Forest. I don’t compare myself with these genius managers from the past,” he told a packed press conference.
“Not one of these great managers said in his first press conference ‘my target is I want to be a legend at the end of my time here’. This is a great club because of many good decisions in the past, good players, brilliant players, now we have to work in the present.
“Twenty-five years ago (Liverpool’s last title) is a long time. In this time all people have tried to get better, to improve, to take the next title. But history is only the base for us. It is all the people are interested in but you don’t take history in your backpack and carry it with you for 25 years.
“We can wait for it but I don’t want to say we can wait 20 years. If we sit here in four years I think we’ll have won one title – I’m pretty sure.”
While Klopp has set himself that ambitious target, he was keen not to overburden his new squad – of which he is confident provide him with most of the tools to do his job – with that expectation.
After enjoying an unprecedented run of success from the 1970s right through to 1990, Reds fans are desperate to end their title drought and believe Klopp is the man to do it.
The German wants to harness that hope and optimism to push the team forward but insists it will take time to turn around things at a club which has finished second just three times in 24 years.
“This is one of the biggest problems you have here, maybe on the island (the UK),” he added.
“For sure the Premier League is one of the most difficult leagues because five, six, seven clubs can be the champion and at the end only the one can be the champion and all the others are disappointed.
“The most important thing for the development is the start. This would be a really good moment for a restart. It is only important we play our own game, let the players feel the confidence and the trust of the people. They have to think they can reach the expectations of all the people, of all the fans, of the press.
“If someone wants to help Liverpool they have to change from doubters to believers. We have to start anew and see what happens this year.”
Predecessor Brendan Rodgers spent almost £300million in just over three years and many of his signings were criticised for not being up to scratch.
Klopp, however, has a different view.
He said: “We have to change our performance of course because no-one is satisfied at this moment but stop thinking about money (spent). It is only about football. If you want to enjoy the game you have to prepare for this.
“If you come to the stadium you want to see fighting spirit, many sprints, many shots and if you see this.”