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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Jürgen Klopp to Depart Borussia Dortmund After Dismal Season


The announcement that Jürgen Klopp will depart Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season is surprising only in its timing. Klopp’s chemistry with the team had grown stale after seven successful years, and at 47 he remains young enough, charismatic enough, and now available enough to take on one of the really rich and powerful clubs around Europe. Manchester City is the early book-makers favorite, but over the next few days and weeks no one should rule out Real Madrid, the reigning Champions League and Club World Cup holder. He is, or has been, that good. He laughs a lot, he rails sometimes, he works the communications channels eloquently, (in ever improving English), and most impressively of all, his record of getting young players to run and to entertain to the highest levels of the sport are proven. “I always said that in that moment where I believe I am not the perfect coach any more for this extraordinary club, I will say so,” Klopp said at a news conference in Dortmund, Germany, on Wednesday. “I really think the decision is the right one. This club deserves to be coached by the 100 percent right manager. Dortmund needs the change.” It does, and so does the coach. Ever since he arrived there from Mainz, a smaller club that he also coached to aspirations it barely knew it had, he and Borussia have fitted like a glove. There was rare emotion when Klopp, the team’s sporting director Michael Zorc and its managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke spoke at the news conference on Wednesday. “It touched us a lot, be assured of that,” Waitzke said. “It is very difficult for us because we realized that we have a special relationship based on extreme trust and friendship.” So why the parting with three years left on the contract between Klopp and Dortmund? There was an unspoken reason for this, and it directly involved Bayern. The Munich giant weakened Klopp’s hand season after season either by paying what it took to lure away his best players, or by waiting until the next best player’s contract wound down and getting him for free. If it was sad to lose local prospect Mario Götze to Bayern two seasons ago, it was compounded by Robert Lewandowksi, the Polish striker who so vastly improved at Dortmund, but left when his contract ended the following summer. Coaches and managers at smaller clubs get used to this. Money begets money, and ambitious players generally move to where they are paid the most — and where they might win the most trophies. When this was compounded at Dortmund by as many nine of the first-team players going lame through injuries, even Klopp, who drove them, must have had doubts about whether it was healthy for everyone for him to stay. He said Wednesday that there was no rift with players, and Zorc turned to face Klopp to say: “Jürgen, you have given this cub energy and optimism.” Certainly he did. His style of playing and managing was based on extreme high tempo, on running , passing and movement that extracted everything his players could muster. But it appeared that while this broke the resistance of opponents, it possibly also contributed to the muscular injuries that piled up within his squad. That is a perception that anyone who bids for his services might examine. It is similar to the exhaustion, both on coach and players, that made Pep Guardiola quit Barcelona to take a sabbatical year in New York before returning to coach at Bayern Munich. Klopp quashed rumors that he, too, needs time away from the game. He said he was fit and available for hire — and presumably not in the role of television pundit, which he is well suited for. He wants a club, a big club to meet his own desire to win the major prizes. Real Madrid will remember the way Dortmund outplayed its Galacticos in the past. Manchester City, thought to be waiting in hope that Guardiola would by leave Munich after one more year, was suddenly marked down on the betting odds from 16-1 to 8-11 as the next move for Klopp. Why wouldn’t it? His English is so very polished, and he says he wants a challenge. Source nytimes

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