Didi Hamann Exclusive: Losing Finals Key To Klopp's Success
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Didi Hamann Exclusive: Losing Finals Key To Klopp's Success

Dietmar Hamann believes that the most important moments in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool career were the two final defeats he suffered in his first season at Anfield. The German tactician replaced Brendan Rodgers in October 2015 and led the Reds to the League Cup final – where his men were beaten by Manchester City on penalties – before losing 3-1 to Sevilla in the Europa League final. Those setbacks did not deter the Merseysiders’ head coach, however, who has since claimed a Premier League, Champions League, Super Cup, Club World Cup and – most recently – a League Cup with Liverpool. And Hamann has suggested that those early losses helped Klopp identify which members of his squad he could rely on.


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League Cup Final Loss 

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “The most important moment – and I came in for some stick for saying this – but in his first season, they lost the League Cup final to City on penalties. 

“I was there at Wembley, it was a game that could have gone either way. It goes to penalties, you know, it happens. 

“Then they played the Europa League final against Sevilla. They battered Sevilla in the first half, they were all over Sevilla, winning 1-0 and they ended up losing the game 3-1, and deservedly so. 

“In the second half they were non-existent, and after the game the club extended his contract. And I said at the time, ‘he lost two cup finals, he’s got three years left on his contract, how can you extend his contract, what sign does it send to the fans, to the players – that losing a final is acceptable?’ 

“I came in for some stick, but I would say the same thing again. I think what happened, after the Sevilla game, he knew they threw the game away. 

“They should have been two or three up at half-time, and they ended up losing the game. After that game, he knew which players he could keep and which to change.

“More often than not, a turning point comes from losing a game rather than winning one because you don’t really find out much about a team when you’re winning, you find out more about a team when you’re losing. 

“I think that was probably the case, and I think that Sevilla game opened his eyes to what he had to do at that club.”

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Champions League Final Loss

And Hamann has pointed to Liverpool’s Champions League final loss to Real Madrid in 2018 – before bouncing back to lift the trophy the following year – as further evidence that Klopp uses defeats to learn and grow.

“Something similar happened in Germany when Bayern Munich lost to Chelsea, and they ended up winning the Champions League the year later at Wembley against Dortmund,” he explained. 

“These are the signs that the all-time great teams show. 

“If you have a setback like they did, losing the way they did against Madrid with [Mohamed] Salah coming off, the keeper making a couple of mistakes, to come back the next season shows an awful lot of strength and requires an awful lot of mental strength.

“Klopp’s got to lead by example because whatever he said after the Champions League final, the players must have bought into it. 

“He probably said, ‘forget about it, we had our shot, didn’t work out, we’ll be back for more next year.’ 

“And they did come back. You learn an awful lot about yourself and your team when you lose games. 

“This was the path of being successful. When they played Madrid they had a pretty good team. They’ve improved since, but they had a pretty good team. 

“That match taught them what they needed to do to finally become Champions League winners.”

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Recruitment Praise

Hamann also hailed Liverpool’s recruitment throughout Klopp’s time at the club, highlighting its significance in the Reds’ recent success.

But the former German international dismissed concerns about what will happen to the club when Klopp moves on.

“You’ve got to say they bought some outstanding players – [Virgil] Van Dijk, yes he cost a lot of money, so did Fabinho, so did [Alisson] Becker, these guys are outstanding players, then you have [sadio] Mane and Salah,” he said.

“It’s a chance for somebody else [when Klopp leaves]. In modern football, if you look at the time managers spend at clubs, the average tenure is between 11 and 13 months. 
“I think we should appreciate the good times and the length of stay he’s had. He’s been here for five years now, it might end up being seven or eight. There might be a time where the punters say, ‘well, we want him out!’, things change quickly!

“He said he doesn’t want to extend his contract, I think he’s got two or three years left, and it must require a lot of energy to manage a club like Liverpool.

“To keep 22 players happy, telling so many players they’re not in the squad, all the media requirements, it must be very taxing and testing to be a manager in the modern day. 

“Let’s hope we have him for a few more years, and when he finally decides to call it a day, it’s a chance for somebody else, but it won’t be an easy job to follow him. 

“Steven Gerrard said, ‘yes, Liverpool one day, but I won’t go straight after Klopp,’ but somebody will. 

“It’s an opportunity for somebody to manage one of the biggest and most unique clubs in the world, so give them a chance.”

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V: 1.20.0 All rights reserved. August 2021
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