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Liverpool’s whirlwind week: Klopp meets Ferguson, Taylor Swift songs and Rolex watches



Liverpool's whirlwind week: Klopp meets Ferguson, Taylor Swift songs and Rolex watches

What a memorable end to the season for Liverpool.

An emotional farewell to Jurgen Klopp, two senior players also saying goodbye and the dawn of a new era with Monday’s announcement that Arne Slot has signed a three-year contract as head coach.

This is the inside story of that last week, with laughter, tears, dinner with Sir Alex Ferguson and a Taylor Swift outburst…


How Liverpool hired Slot: the details, surprising contenders and why talks became tense

As Liverpool legend John Barnes delighted the crowd with a word-perfect rendition of Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, Jurgen Klopp took to the stage.

They formed an impromptu double act as Barnes sang and Klopp, wearing his black baseball cap backwards, showed off his dance moves. The Titanic Hotel – near Liverpool’s iconic waterfront – was the setting for the lavish farewell party on Sunday evening.

After all the emotions of the farewell at Anfield a few hours earlier, it was time to relax. It was around 9.30pm when Klopp led the squad into the luxurious banquet room to join family, friends and club staff as Dua Lipa’s One Kiss played.

The guest list included UFC fighter Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett, while Barnes was joined by fellow Anfield greats Sir Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush as the festivities continued after 4am.

The champagne flowed and an orchestral band played before the DJ, Twotone, took over. Everyone on the team was there, and Darwin Nunez was one of the last players to leave.

Much was made of the fact that the Uruguayan striker did not applaud during the guard of honor for Klopp on the pitch earlier, but he was in good spirits during the celebrations. At one point, a South American trio of Nunez, Colombian Luis Diaz and Alexis Mac Allister from Argentina were involved in a dance-off.

Just after 10 p.m., Klopp, the players and the coaching staff were invited to the podium. The big screen showed a collection of video messages from current and former stars thanking him for the impact Klopp has had on their careers.

Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were among those who took the microphone to say a few words. As well as the outgoing manager, there were also tributes to Joel Matip and Thiago, both of whom are leaving as free agents this summer.

The trophies won by the German during the German’s nearly nine-year rule were on display; Klopp had previously been presented with miniature versions on the Anfield pitch after the Wolves match. A children’s play area was set up for the players’ families and a photo booth for guests with prints coming out with the inscription ‘Danke Jurgen’.

Klopp’s parting gift from FSG’s executive team John W Henry Mike Gordon, Tom Werner and Billy Hogan (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Rewind to last Tuesday and when the players were given the day off following their 3-3 draw away to Aston Villa the night before, Klopp attended a special event at Anfield for around 700 club staff from across departments. He stood on the steps of the main stand with the cutlery underneath him so a photo could be taken as they all sat on either side.

The internal LFCTV crew then had twenty minutes to film Klopp’s farewell video for the supporters. A drone was used to capture footage of him in the center circle and then on the Kop with a club scarf around his neck.

Stadium tours had been halted in hopes of keeping those moments private, but some French students were still in the upper tier and photos they took soon appeared on social media.

Klopp then headed to the Carlsberg Dugout executive lounge in the main stand, where staff from across the club were treated to an hour-long question and answer session. Klopp spoke candidly and sometimes became emotional when talking about being part of the ‘LFC family’.

What advice would you give someone about building a great team? “Build it around Bobby Firmino.”

Favorite movie? “Forrest Gump – and I can’t believe Tom Hanks was just a few feet away from me last night (at Villa Park).”

Actor Hanks attended Liverpool’s match at Villa… but Klopp didn’t get an autograph (Clive Mason/Getty Images)

When asked what music he listens to, Klopp revealed that his wife Ulla had been given tickets to see Taylor Swift at Anfield next month and he started singing her hit Shake It Off.

Despite living in England for the better part of a decade, he admits cricket still baffles him. “I hear the scores being announced and I still have no idea who won.”

Klopp said his favorite Scouse word was ‘luv’ and that it took him years to understand why the ladies in the training ground canteen would say to him every morning: ‘Would you like a coffee, luv?’

It was Klopp’s idea to have ‘Thank you luv’ engraved on the front of the T-shirts and hoodies the outgoing staff donned after Sunday’s final match against Wolves. The back read: ‘I’ll Never Walk Alone Again’.

Jurgen Klopp helped design his farewell hoodie (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

At the end of the question and answer session, Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan presented Klopp with a book full of heartfelt messages written by staff members. Klopp explained that he could not stay for the drinks portion of the event as he was going out for dinner with Sir Alex Ferguson, which he later described as “excellent”.

There has long been a mutual respect between them. Klopp once said that first meeting Manchester United manager legend Ferguson was “like meeting the Pope”. In a congratulatory message to Klopp after Liverpool won the 2020 Premier League title, Ferguson said: “The level of performance from the team was excellent. I forgive you for waking me up at 4:30 in the morning to tell me you won the competition.”

The real Jürgen Klopp – one Athletic special series

A group of Norwegian Liverpool supporters were sitting in the Freshfield pub in the town of Formby last Wednesday evening chatting with former Liverpool striker David Fairclough when, to their surprise, Klopp walked in.

He was there with assistant Peter Krawietz to have drinks with members of the club’s media department, and happily posed for selfies and signed autographs.

The following day there was a players’ barbecue at the club’s Kirkby base after training, where captain Virgil van Dijk paid a moving tribute to Klopp and his backroom staff. They each received a Rolex watch as a farewell gift from the team.

The Freshfield pub, Jurgen Klopp’s local (Simon Hughes/The Athletic)

From there, assistants Pep Lijnders and Krawietz, together with elite development coach Vitor Matos, goalkeeping coach John Achterberg, head of fitness Andreas Kornmayer and head of recovery and performance Andreas Schlumberger, drove to Hotel Anfield, near the stadium, for a special reception with supporter groups.

“These guys made us champions of the damn world,” declared musician Jamie Webster, who performed the patio anthems Allez Allez Allez and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Each coach was given an LFC shirt with their name on the back and signed by hundreds of fans. The microphone was passed to the supporters to express their favorite memories and thanks.

“Imagine you are us,” said Lijnders, with a wink at the banner on the Kop. “Name me a world football club that would organize something like this for the staff behind the scenes. It’s unbelievable.”

Saturday was the last training session when Klopp cleared his office and left the AXA Training Center for the last time. His open letter to the Liverpool Echo newspaper was published, in which he described his adopted home as “the city of open arms”.

With one eye on the future, a man who had previously warned about the dangers of social media launched his own Instagram account. Within 48 hours, @Kloppo had amassed more than two million followers.

Klopp, who broke down earlier this week when reading a letter from a fan while filming with LFCTV, was desperate to create a festive rather than sad atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday. He got his wish.

His on-field speech after the match hit the right note when he told the fans, “From today on, I’m one of you,” and then, back in the locker room, he told his players, “I love you, that is all I can do.” can say.

“The football you can play is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t wait to see you develop and take the next steps. Thanks for the ride. I’m so proud of you, and I’m so proud to be a part of this. The sky is the limit for you guys.”

When Klopp finally walked in for his final press conference shortly after 8 p.m., about two hours after the final whistle, he took out his phone and took a photo of the media members sitting in front of him, which was quickly uploaded to his Instagram account. “Just in case I miss you,” he joked.

Klopp underlined the fact that he plans to take at least a year off and that he may not be able to make it again. He will attend the Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund, his previous club, and Real Madrid at Wembley in London on June 1, and will be a spectator at the Paralympic Games in Paris in August.

There may have been no silverware up for grabs at Anfield on Sunday, but data from Blinkfire Analytics underlined the scale of interest. The largest British TV audience for the Wolves match was 1.2 million and 70 per cent more people watched Klopp’s post-match farewell than Manchester City’s title celebration which took place at the same time on another Sky Sports channel. On YouTube, Anfield footage was viewed 44 percent more than events at the Etihad Stadium.

In terms of fan engagement across all content published on the clubs’ social media platforms, Liverpool set a new Premier League record for a single matchday in 2023-2024 with 26 million on Sunday, while City attracted 19.4 million .

Linda Pizzuti, wife of Liverpool’s main owner John W Henry, responded on Instagram to City’s post on ‘.

“A sincere congratulations to Man City – Premier League champions. So much respect for this great achievement. Thank you for thinking of us on your special day,” she wrote.

On Monday afternoon there was finally official confirmation of Slot’s appointment, but Klopp had actually already announced it for Liverpool with the chant he started from the center circle on Sunday evening.

“It is certainly not an easy decision to close the door behind you at a club where you have experienced so many wonderful moments and worked successfully with so many great people,” Slot said on the Feyenoord website when his departure from the Dutch team became official. “But as a sportsman, an opportunity to become a head coach in the Premier League, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, is hard to ignore.”

go deeper


Arne Slot: The ‘priest’ from the border country, born to coach

The preseason starts in early July with a depleted squad, because the European Championship and the Copa America will be played in Germany and the United States this summer. Slot’s number 2, Sipke Hulshoff, will be there from the start after stepping down from his role with the Dutch national team ahead of that European Championship so he can concentrate on his work on Merseyside.

What a week it turned out to be. The baton has been passed.

(Top Photos: Getty Images)