In the movie, Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams plays an inspirational teacher, John Keating. Without spoiling what is a classic film, the deviation from teaching standards in a traditional environment does not end well for Keating.
Fast forward 27 years and Jurgen Klopp can relate somewhat to Keating. The aristocratic surroundings of Welton Academy have been swapped for the equally noble Anfield with the students wealthy footballers that have yet to ‘seize the day’.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss has the job of motivating them, making them buy into new methodologies and above all, making them believe that they can climb back into the elite of English football.
Like Keating, the German has endeared himself to his pupils although unlike the fictional character, he has also been ingratiated by the media and pundits; his openness and honesty a welcome relief from the standard cagey fare delivered post-match.
The opening scenes in Klopp’s drama have been mixed. Fans have been teased by some spectacular and dramatic scenes as those witnessed at the Etihad, Stamford Bridge and the Britannia. The signs are there, but the script and storyline often deviate.
The 2-2 draw away to Exeter in the FA Cup was such occasion when the plot, despite a dramatic re-write in the days leading up to the tie, did not go to plan.
In the end, the Reds live for another day but the added pressure of an additional game could prove crucial for a squad that appears to have the hamstring equivalent of brittle bones at the moment.
Next up is a run of five games that will show just how much Klopp has taught his Liverpool side. Arsenal and Manchester United, currently first and fifth respectively, are the big names that Liverpool stand alongside, in name and history. However, recent success puts them on a pedal-stool below.
Win the matches and they send out another big statement of the potential that Klopp and the players have. Lose and its part of the learning curve that any manager has when taking over. Win and lose to Norwich; murmurs of a lack of stomach for the fight with smaller sides will resurface; managerial learning curves or not.
In between, the youngsters like Adam Bogdan will get another chance to shine against Exeter, this time at Anfield, while the clash with Stoke on January 26 is the “big game” of the five.
A cup final in your first campaign can lead to wondrous belief within one’s self and within a squad. Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini both claimed the League Cup as their first honour in English football; the trophy eventually leading to Premier League titles.
In the final scene of Dead Poets Society, Todd Anderson, a shy pupil at the beginning of the film that transforms, like Joe Allen against the Potters, into a more confident individual, shouts at Keating; “O Captain, my Captain”, the mourning theme something that Klopp won’t want to hear for a long time to come.
Defining, potentially. Important, definitely.