Times have changed and so have the needs of the players and the role of the coach. The new generation of players are smart, well informed and more independent in their thinking. The authority of the coach is not solely based on his tactical knowledge anymore. He is no longer the only gateway for players for education on tactics and technical skills.
More than ever players are looking for a personal developer. Someone they feel is authentic, warm, genuinely interested and has a plan with them, based on their individual wants and needs. A leader establishing a culture of leadership drawing the best out of them.
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk , arguably the best defender in the world talks about his coach Jurgen Klopp as follows:
“I remember meeting the boss for the first time. We had a really good talk and he just gave me the right confidence.
“There is something about Klopp that makes him stand out. It’s not just his energy, I think it’s his man- management.
“Klopp makes you feel great. He is genuinely pleased to see you in the morning and that has a big effect on the players who come in.
“Just look at the hugs he gives us all at the end of games. It is only a bit of affection, something very small, but it makes you feel great.
“And yet, he can be stone-hard the next day and put you in your place when you have made mistakes.
“He will do that in front of the entire squad, but we all accept it because we know it is not something personal.
“Klopp has shown in so many moments that he cares about us – and that’s why he is able to demand so much from us all.”
So pause for one second and read again realizing that he is not praising his coach Jurgen
Klopp for his tactics, game analysis or training sessions. None of it.
He compliments him on his ´man-management’ and appreciates his boss shows ‘affection’. And Klopp strikes to be authentic as he appears ‘genuinely pleased’ to meet his players in the morning.
Not the technical/tactical qualities of Klopp convinced Van Dijk to choose for Liverpool above all other interested clubs. It was his interpersonal skills and human values which had far more impact on the Dutchman.
The beautiful game triggers emotions and Klopp understands this principal and he is a master in transferring his energy onto the players. What makes him more believable than others coaches for Virgil Van Dijk?
Jurgen Klopp is a coach who can truly influence and seems to be conscious about what I call ‘inner culture’ . He stays true to what really matters to him, what his beliefs are and is excellent in attracting others to his values.
It is about time football clubs should create the Club Culture and structure enabling them to recruit and develop coaches to become experts in influencing players.