Today at the Emirates, in perhaps the only semi-interesting Champions League fixture of the day, Arsenal take on Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund. In previous years, this fixture would be interesting because of the relative domestic strength of both clubs. But coming into today’s game, Arsenal sit in eight place in the Premier League. Dortmund, shockingly, are third from bottom of the Bundesliga – pretty amazing considering Dortmund have finished in the top two in the each of the last four seasons.
That said, Arsenal and Dortmund both sit comfortably on top of their Champions League group and look poised to go through to the next round. That’s not to suggest that this game doesn’t matter, just that the only interesting thing about this game is Jurgen Klopp.
For several years now, Klopp has been on the short list to be the next Arsenal manager. Although no one has ever seen this “short list,” apparently he’s on it. But would the couple even be a good match? Let’s explore.
Klopp can see himself coaching in the Premier League. He said so himself. And he has glasses, which probably help him focus. Seeing yourself somewhere is a great predictor of success, until you realize that every Premier League manager sees himself coaching in the Premier League and that the average lifespan of a Premier League manager over the last five seasons is 1.84 seasons.
I’ve “seen myself” doing lots of things that didn’t turn out well. I’ve seen myself flying in dreams, but look at me, still unable to fly, walking around like the basic civilian.
Can you see Klopp at Arsenal? Does it even matter?
A commitment to attacking soccer. As you can see by the placement of his hands in the picture, Klopp has a vision. You can go back into the Dortmund case files to find plenty of examples of Dortmund’s commitment to sexy soccering over the past four years.
You could also just go back to Dortmund’s thrashing of Arsenal in the first group game of this year’s Champions League. Although a 2-0 final isn’t particularly overwhelming, it’s hard to think of many occasions when Arsenal have been so thoroughly outplayed. Dortmund was relentless, and not even at full-strength. At Arsenal, however, Klopp would have to achieve the same thing with Arsenal players, who haven’t exactly been decent at being relentless against so-called top teams.
Could Klopp transfer his style to London? Here’s a question to ponder: How many managers known for playing a fluid attacking game with one big team have been able to successfully transfer that style over to another?
Capable of falling in love. Do you believe that you can only have one true love? Do you even believe in love?
“If Barcelona’s team of the last four years were the first one that I saw play when I was four years of age … with their serenity, winning 5-0, 6-0 … I would have played tennis. Sorry, that is not enough for me. What I love is that there are some things you can do in football to allow each team to win most of the matches.
“It is not serenity football, it is fighting football – that is what I like. What we call in German – English [football] … rainy day, heavy pitch, everybody is dirty in the face and they go home and can’t play football for the next four weeks. This is Borussia.
“When I watch Arsenal in the last 10 years, it is nearly perfect football, but we all know they didn’t win a title. In Britain they say that they like Arsenal but they have to win something. Who wins the title? Chelsea, but with different football, I would say. This is the philosophy of Arsène Wenger. I love this but I cannot coach this because I am a different guy. You think many things are similar? I hope so in some moments, but there are big differences, too.”
Do you believe in love now? He seems emotionally present, eager to be emotionally challenged, available, capable of expression, and unwilling to be compared to that other guy. There’s no doubt that Klopp is lovable. But as the late, great comedian Patrice O’Neal said: Just because I’m lovable, doesn’t make you lovable.
Is Arsenal lovable? Talking about foundations and philosophies and about financial stability surely isn’t the stuff of love. You have to do more than that. You have to provide fodder for dreams. As it stands, even Arsenal fans are finding the club hard to love and are thinking about seeing other people. Like Dortmund. Even though they’re third from bottom of the Bundesliga. So, ultimately, even if Arsenal wanted Klopp, where is the love? Where is the feeling?
Conclusion: No one knows if Klopp would work out at Arsenal or if he would be happy there. Enjoy the game.