There was an understandably uncomfortable angst in Jurgen Klopp’s voice as he announced that this season would be his last as Borussia Dortmund manager.
After all, this is a man who had fashioned a sentimental affinity with all associated with BVB, setting in motion a seven-year tenure rife with extraordinary thrills.
After joining from Mainz in 2008, Klopp hauled Dortmund—who were on the cusp of financial oblivion in 2005—off their haunches and with a bespoke swagger, up the Bundesliga table to two league titles, a German cup and to within touching distance of Champions League glory.
It’s a stunning résumé and those achievements coupled with the 48-year-old’s effervescent aura will ensure he’ll be one of the most coveted men on the continent when he does leave his post at the Westfalenstadion. They’re the same qualities that should prompt Manchester City to pursue the much-lauded coach, as they too stand on the cusp of a critical period in their own history.
While reports suggest that Manuel Pellegrini’s job at the club remains safe for the time being, per Jamie Jackson of the Guardian, should City meander towards the end of a campaign that has seen them falter in four separate competitions, it’s tough to see any way back for the Chilean.
If he does get the boot, a void will open up for someone to take not only one of the most desirable jobs in world soccer, but one of the most challenging too. It’s a task that the departing German has all the requisite qualities to tackle with distinction.
While the environment Klopp walked into at Dortmund isn’t immediately comparable to the one he would potentially encounter at the Etihad, there are some comparisons to draw. After all, like BVB were in 2008, City are a team that are in desperate need of a squad overhaul and a timely injection of youthful impetus.
Building a vibrant new roster with invigorated young talent is something Klopp is already well versed in, having done exactly that when taking the Dortmund job seven years ago. After all, players like Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan, Shinji Kagawa, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski all blossomed under the German’s watch in a tactical blueprint that was both daring and diligent.
While City’s heftier clout in the transfer window means Klopp would have funds to potentially expedite a renaissance, with Financial Fair Play sanctions set to keep their spending in check, it’d be naive to expect a substantial summer splurge from the Manchester outfit. As such, Klopp’s ability to be creative in the window would also be vital to this team.
The manner in which the Dortmund chief sets his team up would be tailored perfectly to English soccer. The ferocious pressing, incisive passing and unrelenting energy are all qualities that when implemented appropriately, are central to any top-class Premier League outfit. They’re also properties that have been in short supply in East Manchester for a while now.
Of course, this City squad in its current state wouldn’t be able to operate in a style with such focus on physicality. But given the summer to shape things, Klopp could add an underpinning steel to this side and build from there.
Perhaps most enamoring of all is the charisma of the man. While Pellegrini and his predecessor Roberto Mancini have each sampled their own various successes in the City hot-seat, neither is an extroverted, amicable character. They are each meticulous in their duties, but not the kind of personas to emotively stir something in their team or indeed the club’s supporters.
Klopp is a man who wears his heart unashamedly on his sleeve, though. The tears flowed when he departed Mainz for Borussia in 2008, as he left with the well-wishes of everyone at the Coface Arena. You suspect a similarly sentimental sendoff awaits him when he walks off the Westfalenstadion pitch for the final time too, a venue at which he has celebrated wildly and recoiled in heartbreak many a time.
As City approach precarious point in their development, a man who is going to lift the mood of everyone at the Etihad with an insouciant charm seems like the right fit. A man who is going to unite everyone at the football club would add some vital stability to a team poised to undergo an influx of change.
Men like Rafael Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti—both have been linked with the job, per Jackson’s piece, and both have savoured the European glory that the Etihad delegates so crave—would be more of the same for City and while each could potentially bring a title, a decision on the club’s next manager should be made with longevity in mind.
Klopp would be a brave alternative and despite his sterling reputation, still something of a gamble when it comes to an elite-level outfit. But City are sleepwalking at the moment and are in desperate need of a stimulating figurehead to spark them into life again.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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