Thank Klopp And Poch For Success In Europe – Stan Speaks…

Young, fresh managers should of course bring fresh ideas, fresh momentum and enthusiasm by the bucket load.

British Football Is Back
Klopp and Poch are bringing all of these qualities to the Premier League but don’t kid yourself that these fine young managers are trying to reinvent the football wheel, because they aren’t.

What they are doing is tapping into the very best attributes of British football; that is if you’re under 30, used to mind boggling graphics, squiggles on graphs, complicated names for systems you may be forgiven for not knowing.

What are these attributes? Well a wise old sage once said “football is a simple game complicated by idiots” and apart from agreeing with the sentiment; the two managers highlighted in this column practice this on the training ground and on the pitch.

Hard work, good shape, round pegs in round holes and an intensity which has been the hallmark of top flight English football for a century or more, and how much are oldies like me loving it?!

In 1994, the Forest side i played for finished third in the league with mostly British based players, technically good, hard working and organised. There was no secret, no magic system, no rash of panic signings from all over the world, no excess squad players moping around creating a flat atmosphere. Remind you of Liverpool and Spurs at the moment, and of course league leaders Leicester? Yup, reminds me of all 3!

Smaller rather than bigger squad sizes, more work on the training ground with a smaller group akin to smaller class sizes in schools means more time honing the core group, and filling players’ heads with simplicity rather than the latest infographic.

Old School
Klopp and Poch then are old school British managers, trust me, and they are reaping the reward.

I saw Liverpool demolish Man City, not by tactics but by outworking the opposition, not giving them a moments peace, breaking their will and using that working advantage to kill the game early. Likewise, Spurs v West Ham.

Leicester City, built by Nigel Pearson made sure that every player uses the latest nutrition, tailored for the individual, used video analysis to remind players who they were playing against and their strengths and weaknesses. Also, it was crucially made sure that rather than buying in 15 players who were individuals, who thought like individuals and acted like individuals, he made sure that every player was part of one working machine, and Claudio Ranieri is reaping the rewards.

Like Klopp and Poch, nothing revolutionary, everything simple and harking back to managers and times when football people, fans and owners understood that simplicity and tempo gave English (and British) clubs a chance to compete both home and abroad.

Klopp in particular is straight from the 70’s or 80’s.

He was angry, shouting, screaming and waving his players forward in a manner v City that if it were Mike Bassett, we’d be quick to mock. But for me it was a refreshing return to a managerial style which constantly demanded more from players, being the conductor, the inspiration rather than the gaffer in the smart suit constantly looking down taking notes.

He was an average player in the German second division so understands the physical nature of football, the need to ‘earn the right’ to play rather than passing the ball aimlessly around for passing sake, and most importantly he understands the need to lead, something many modern managers in a football world devoid of true on field leadership do not possess. Players like to look across and be told sometimes, to feel a manager cares, and Klopp leaves you in no doubt that he does.

Who’s The Gaffer?
Poch is a little more laid back but you can’t get Southampton playing with the tempo they did and latterly Spurs without the dressing room knowing who’s boss, because if only 7 or 8 buy into frankly a bloody hard work philosophy, then it doesn’t work. The fact that it has and is at both of his English clubs tells me that at Spurs lodge and in the dressing room, the players know who the gaffer is.

I firmly believe that football follows the latest fashion.

Expect more non-league and lower league players in the coming 18 months in the Prem due to the success of Vardy and Alli,

…so as teams ape trends and systems, we’ll see more teams copying the high tempo pressing of Klopp and Poch and I for one will be licking my lips at the prospect.


It will be a welcome return to our British football roots. Tempo, aggression, tackling (Alli’s 2 tackles at Wembley anyone?) allied to better technique offered in academies may just get us back to some degree of success in Europe and with England.

And we may have an Argentinean and a German to thank down the line.