Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool will channel spirit of the All Blacks
Premier League champions to receive guard of honour from Manchester City at Etihad
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp: ‘We feel in the middle of something, not the end of something.’ Photograph: Shaun Botterill/NMC Pool/PA Wire
Jürgen Klopp has said he will channel the spirit of the All Blacks into ensuring Liverpool continue to give 100 per cent for the shirt and are not satisfied with one Premier League title triumph. Liverpool will receive a guard of honour from Manchester City on Thursday when facing the team they deposed as Premier League champions with a record seven matches to spare.
Although elated at ending the club’s 30-year wait for a 19th league championship, Klopp insists he and his players do not feel they have reached the pinnacle with Liverpool and will not let standards drop next season.
That mantra, he explained, struck a chord when watching a documentary about the New Zealand rugby team early in his managerial career.
“We feel in the middle of something, not the end of something,” the Liverpool manager said.
“We have to give everything until we finish our careers. As long as you wear this shirt, less than 100 per cent is not allowed. That is not my phrase, it came from the All Blacks. I saw that in a nice documentary about the All Blacks and I kept that always for myself. That is for each LFC player the same and for me the same.
“We prepare for Man City with full focus. We will be prepared for the next season as well. I don’t know another way. I’ve learned when you think you’ve reached the pinnacle you are already on the way down and we don’t feel that. I don’t feel finally satisfied. It’s a big step but not the only thing I want to talk about with the boys in 20 years.”
Klopp first saw the All Blacks’ documentary 19 years ago and admits the lessons have continued to shape his managerial outlook. He even incorporated the haka into the pre-match routine at Mainz. “It was in 2001,” he said.
“It was my first pre-season at Mainz and I saw this documentary in the summer break. I was completely impressed by these big fellas and how they spoke about each other. At that time, the All Blacks were by far the best in the world. I think they had a winning percentage of something over 70 per cent and it was really impressive. They were all amateurs, maybe they got a little bit of money, I don’t know.
They were the All Blacks, Mainz’s main colour is red so we made ourselves the All Reds
“They worked as butchers, builders, all that stuff. These pretty impressive guys spoke about their past and what it meant to them to play for this team. At Mainz, the last two minutes before the team bus arrived at the stadium we always listened to the haka. When the door opened I don’t know if people thought a bunch of boys would come out of the bus because it was pretty loud and impressive and it gave us a little kick.
“They were the All Blacks, Mainz’s main colour is red so we made ourselves the All Reds. Nobody noticed that because we were a small team but, for us, it was big. That is how it started for that team. The players really liked it. It gave us the chance from a team nobody is interested in to become a team at least we are really interested in. That helped us.”