Commander Klopp

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A mild wind blows through the open roof, seagulls squawking high above as the distant sea air fills the nostrils.

Sprinklers twist and turn, sending water spritzing in dancing circles. Neatly trimmed grass clipped and groomed to perfection. The netting rustling as it is tightened on opposite ends. A pristine field. The perfect place for battle. One hundred and one meters long by 68 meters wide. An arena for gladiators to showcase their best; to reach for the stars and etch their name into the annals of history.

Hands clasped tight behind his back, legs spread wide as a canyon, thin lips pursed and squinted eyes watchful. Klopp surveys the battlefield. His eyes lingering on the opposition. On the enemy. Assessing the situation. Assessing the landscape. Assessing for weaknesses. It is often in this very moment the battle is won or lost. A general must be able to read his opponent, to feel the emotion of the moment, to mould it, shape it and utilize it. Like a thrust of a knife. Or a tactical retreat and the battening down of hatches. Fine margins maybe but marginal gains often provide the difference in conflict.

A sharp whistle blows, instigating a war-cry to reverberate around the arena. Enough savagery to instil fear. Enough force to quieten a fighter jet. Enough to turn jangling nerves into a fist in the guts. To make an experienced practitioner slump into his boots, reminiscent of their younger green stripling self on their first day of school.

A noise like stampeding horses, as the grass is churned, clods from boots are sprayed. Bodies suddenly flying in every direction, bodies turning, legs stretching and arms swinging. Every inch of the field featuring small battles of today’s war. Some about brute strength, as two battering rams face-off. Others about quick-wit and guile, movement and awareness. Tomorrow a forecast of bruised ankles and cut shins.

Klopp sees it all.

His position has now changed. Moved for his own safety. Or the safety of others, dependent on who you ask. Now he watches from the sidelines, enthralled, immersed in the going on’s.

Occasionally the moment dictates change and change necessitates orders. Orders are waylaid through the hierarchy. First, it begins with Klopp; then, after a brief discussion with his staff, messages are relayed to his captain on the field. The captain dictates to his lieutenants, and soon sharp barks of information are passed swiftly through the squad — a chain of command with military precision. The message passed from man to man. Reinforcements are pushed into the fray to relinquish those in need of replacing, plans and tactics to exploit perceived weaknesses are enforced. All must play their part as the campaign is long, hard, gruelling and as relentless as the tide. Minute details. For or against, only time will tell.

Not all battles end in glory. Often there are hiccups, side-steps and disappointments. Every victory celebration must be tapered and focus maintained at all times. Win, lose or draw, this is but one battle in a long hard-fought war. One dictated by Commander Klopp, Liverpool’s military orchestrator.

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