Goodbye, Jurgen Klopp: ‘The ‘Normal One’ who became ‘The Lovable One’

It is no exaggeration to say that Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool on May 19 devastated many of the club’s fans.

Grown men cried openly at Anfield and around the world, and Malaysians were no exception.

While some rival fans mocked Klopp for “only winning one league title” in his nine years, it was the man that he was that touched the hearts of Liverpool supporters.

The German immediately connected with the fans and media in his first press conference on Oct 9, 2015, when he declared he was “The Normal One”. He spoke ‘their language’, was accessible, and was always ready to lend a helping hand.

With a bit of luck, it could have been three league titles and three Champions League crowns, but it was not to be, and so Klopp leaves with one each of the EPL, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, FA Cup and two League Cups, plus a Community Shield.

Klopp showed his class in his farewell speech when he sang incoming Arne Slot’s name and got the crowd to join in – immediately ensuring the new man gets the support he deserves.

That gesture prompted a friend, Dev Prasad, to send a WhatsApp message which read: “Simply, the loveable one.”

In my Liverpool group chat, many of us shared how much we would miss Klopp, how he was well-loved, and nearly everyone admitted to having tears in their eyes.

A former boss, M. Zulkifli A. Jalil, also messaged: “My wife has been crying non-stop the whole night. I have tears, too.”

Prem Kumar said: “Just read a news report that started with ‘Former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’ … that stung.

“I’m going to miss him. He was a generational manager. We won’t see anyone like him for a long time.”

Even a Manchester United fan, who wished to remain anonymous due to his allegiance to the Red Devils, admitted: “I’m going to miss him as he was a good man.”

Of course, he couldn’t resist a dig: “Pity he will never be as great as (Sir) Alex Ferguson! But I understand how Liverpool fans feel about losing such a manager. I cried when Fergie left United.”

Part of the reason why it was so emotional was because no Liverpool manager had had a send-off like this since 1983!

Then, the late, great Bob Paisley, who won six league titles, three League Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup and is still the only manager of an English club to win three European Cups (now called the Champions League), announced his retirement before the season ended.

Since then, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Joe Fagan, Graeme Souness, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Dalglish (for a second time) and Brendan Rodgers all left after the season ended, or were fired.

So, for many Liverpool fans, this was their first chance to say goodbye to a manager and to Klopp, who had turned “doubters into believers”.

Klopp is responsible for the club’s three highest-ever league points totals, including the record tally of 99 in 2019-2020.

Under him, Liverpool also reached 97 points (2019) and 92 (2022), both times losing out on the title by a single point, with the former being the record points for a runner-up.

Klopp also oversaw a club-record of 147 goals (2021-2022) and the second-highest, of 142 this season.

He also led Liverpool to the EPL record for most consecutive home wins (24), the fastest to win the league (31 games), joint longest winning streak (18), joint most home wins in a season (18), joint most victories in a season (32) and equalled the biggest home win (9-0).

Klopp also has a record of 68 consecutive league matches unbeaten, and gave youth a chance, giving 42 teenagers their debuts – the most in the club’s history. He leaves with a squad capable of challenging for the title and many youngsters waiting in the wings.

In 2022, Klopp was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool, becoming only the second foreign national to be given the honour after Nelson Mandela.

It was a hell of a ride, and Klopp deserves the rest after “running out of gas”. Good luck, Klopp, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

RISE IN COVID-19 AND DENGUE CASES

Covid-19 cases are rising as the Malaysian Health Ministry reported 1,230 new cases in the 20th Epidemiological Week (May 12 to 18), an increase of 14.8 per cent from the previous week. The good news is that there have been no Covid-19 fatalities since April 25.

As of May 18, there are 5,283,624 Covid-19 cases in Malaysia and 37,350 fatalities.

Singapore’s Health Ministry said on May 18, that there were 25,900 new Covid-19 infections from May 5 to May 11, a 90 per cent increase from the previous week (13,700). The KP.1 and KP.2 virus strains are responsible for over two-thirds of the new infections.

Despite the increase in cases, Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Ling Tian Soon told the media on May 23 that there would be no changes in the standard operating procedures for cross-border travel for Malaysians working in Singapore.

Meanwhile, on May 20, the Health Ministry reported 343 dengue cases in Malaysia for the 19th Epidemiological Week (May 5-11), bringing the total to 57,220 this year. Sadly, one person died during this period, meaning there have been 40 fatalities from dengue this year.

In the corresponding week a year ago, Malaysia’s total was 41,175 cases and 26 deaths.

PESTA BUKU ANTARABANGSA KL

If you ever wondered how to motivate young children to read or write books, head to the Gerakbudaya booths at the Pesta Buku Antarabangsa KL tomorrow, May 26.

Go to Merdeka Hall on Level 4 of the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur at 3pm to listen to two young authors – Davina Sanjna and Adam Cheong – who will talk about how they published their stories in ‘The Eye: A Young Writers’ Anthology’.

The book fest will continue until June 2.

BORNEO NATIVE FEST AT CENTRAL MARKET

Experience the rich traditions of Sabah and Sarawak at the Borneo Native Fest that began yesterday, May 24, until Sunday, May 26, at Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market.

There will be drummers and other musicians, dancers, singers, a beauty pageant, a colourful parade, storytelling, arts and crafts, and delicious food, as our East Malaysians celebrate the harvest festival called Kaamatan in Sabah, and Gawai in Sarawak.

Although traditionally month-long celebrations, Kaamatan is ‘officially’ on May 30 and 31, while Gawai is on June 1 and 2.

ROJAK AND CENDOL FESTIVAL

Lovers of rojak and cendol rejoice, as Kuala Langat Municipal Council (KLMC) will host a festival to celebrate the two Malaysian favourites.

The two-day festival at Dataran Banting is today, May 25 (9am-10pm) and tomorrow (9am-1pm).

KLMC hopes to enter the Malaysian Book of Records for the largest Rojak and Cendol Festival.