Despite managing highly successful clubs since 2001, Jürgen Klopp has never really been considered a candidate for the title of the world’s best manager by many members of the media. What Klopp did recently for Borussia Dortmund, winning the Bundesliga in 2011 and 2012 with one of the league’s youngest teams before a successful 2013 Union of European Football Associations Champions League campaign, as well as making the 2018 UCL finals with Liverpool and getting off to a great start this year, should cement him as the world’s top manager.
Jürgen Klopp began his career managing Mainz 05, earning the German club promotion to the Bundesliga and even qualifying for the Euro Cup, which is now the Europa League. His efforts were recognized by Borussia Dortmund, the second biggest club in Germany behind Bayern Munich, in 2008 when he was hired. His time at Dortmund was again defined by overachievement. He managed to claim consecutive Bundesliga titles, topping a vaunted Bayern Munich team in the midst of an era where they reached three UCL finals in five seasons.
In 2013, Klopp led Dortmund to the Champions League final, topping Real Madrid in the semifinals, before losing a heartbreaking final to Bayern Munich. What Klopp managed to do in Dortmund was nothing short of remarkable, as he managed to keep Dortmund competitive with Bayern, a club with both more historical prestige and far more money, proven by Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski. Those stars both signed for Bayern in 2012 and 2013 despite Dortmund’s success under Klopp.
When Klopp left Dortmund in 2015, he was a hot commodity, but even Liverpool could not have expected the success he brought when they secured his hire. At the time, Liverpool was reeling on and off the field, struggling to qualify for the Champions League after being unable to replace stars Luis Suárez and Raheem Sterling. Within three years, Klopp brought Liverpool all the way to a Champions League Final. Perhaps most importantly, he has established Liverpool as a club for top players to not only start their careers in but also stay into their primes.
After winning the Champions League last season and racing off to a nine-point lead in this season’s Premier League campaign, Klopp’s club has continued performing well. While his margin kept them ahead of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, which has won the last two leagues in record-breaking fashion, Liverpool has clearly established themselves as the best team in the world of football, sitting well atop one of its most competitive leagues and consistently performing well in UEFA competition. Klopp has also done so mostly without the massive signings that teams like PSG, Barcelona and Real Madrid routinely make, with star Virgil Van Dijk being the only player to cost over 70 million pounds in the transfer market, a standard cutoff in value to determine the world’s elite players.
Now trying to determine why Klopp succeeds, what distinguishes Klopp’s teams is his ability to get the greatest performances out his players and create a team environment where all of his players fully commit to his philosophy. His Dortmund and Liverpool teams have been defined by frenetic high pressing of their opponents, a style that not only requires commitment by all eleven players on the field but also superior stamina. Another distinct aspect of Klopp’s Liverpool team is the lack of a defined star player, centered around a balanced front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané.
Considering Liverpool’s clear status as the team to beat in the Premier League and Champions League without an overly lavish transfer budget, it is hard to dispute that Jürgen Klopp is the best manager in the world right now.