SPEND a few minutes in the company of David Wagner and Jurgen Klopp and the dubious stereotypes suggesting that Germans are stiff, humourless and detached are soon debunked.
Just as their compatriot Jurgen Klinsmann added colour and dash to the English footballing landscape in the early nineties during his time with Tottenham Hotspur, so these best of managerial friends have provided their own passion play from the dug-out – and become iconic figures at both Huddersfield Town and Liverpool in the process.
The similarities were quickly there for all to see. The matching football philosophies, the same baseball caps, beards and spectacles – and also the displays of pure dug-out emotion which have warmed the hearts of supporters of Town and the Reds so much.
Who can forget David Wagner’s infamous dash following his side’s late derby winner against Leeds United in February 2017?
On the red side of the Mersey divide, Klopp’s animation also quickly endeared himself to the Anfield faithful following his arrival in October 2015.
His visible emotion was most spectacularly manifested when he broke his trademark glasses when hailing Adam Lallana’s winning goal in a crazy 5-4 victory at Norwich City in January 2016.
Klopp may have also been doing a fair bit of celebrating of late, courtesy of Liverpool’s super-charged start to the Premier League, but his former Mainz team-mate and one-time best man has been a touch more subdued recently.
Town followers have not seen their side win since mid-April and it has been a while since Wagner has truly ‘opened up’ on the touchline.
What those home supporters present would give to see Wagner saluting a home goal or two – or perish the thought, a victory – this evening at the expense of a rival manager who admitted to ‘crying like a baby’ when Huddersfield were promoted in the Spring of 2017.
It would be very much in keeping with a fairytale Terriers story which surely has a few chapters still to run yet.
Both managers show real emotion. I remember a couple of occasions in the Championship season when we scored a late winner. I like that because it shows how much he (Wagner) is into this challenge and club and players.Christopher Schindler
Town captain Christopher Schindler – whose winning penalty against Reading at Wembley was the cue for tears of pride and joy from Klopp at his friend’s great achievement – said: “It is great to see when friendships like this can still exist in this really fast-changing business where everything moves so quickly.
“I hope maybe that in this game we can also compete as well as we can and not give him (Klopp) too much joy.
“Both managers show real emotion. I remember a couple of occasions in the Championship season when we scored a late winner. I like that because it shows how much he (Wagner) is into this challenge and club and players.
“It shows how much belief he puts in us and he wants nothing more than us being successful. He sacrifices everything for that and I think it is why the emotions are really extra at times.
“When you see him (Klopp) on TV, you know he can also be really angry. When they were 2-0 up last season and you thought they were winning easily, then teams came back because of easy mistakes.
“That is what drives managers crazy, but especially him as he knows how much effort his team puts in. They do so much running and have so much quality.
“It is good to be emotional, but also find the right words at times to prepare the team as good as you can.”
When it comes to footballing tastes, Schindler admits to being a big fan of the ‘heavy metal’ all-action, in-your-face style that Klopp has espoused at both Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund – even if he will plans to be forsaking the applause today with sight-setting being out of the equation.
A disciple of the famed Klopp style, the former 1860 Munich centre-half added: “I think we played them in the Cup when he was at Dortmund. I think we also faced them in a few friendlies.
“His side’s play really spectacular football; fast football with not too much of a breather. It is not boring, if that makes sense.
“For the spectator, it is always high-speed action. That is what makes watching them so attractive. Goals are almost guaranteed. I like to watch them play football.”
Today will be a day when Town’s players must collectively be at their best to somehow halt the Reds juggernaut, which Schindler and his team-mates know full well.
The centre-half is sage enough to realise that the visitors line-up will be a daunting, high-class one whoever takes the field.
After suffering a bloody nose and a cut eye in Town’s draw at Burnley last time out, Schindler acknowledges that today is likely to be far from straightforward either. More heroes must emerge.
Schindler, who netted his first ever Premier League goal in the recent draw at Turf Moor prior to the international break, said: “I should not worry too much about the strength of an opponent because I cannot influence how good the opponent is.
“I can influence how good I am to prepare as best I can to defend it.
“That is what I do.
“I am not worried because I play against (Roberto) Firmino, (Sadio) Mane, (Mohammed) Salah or whoever because this is what I wanted to have.
“This is what I have played football for since I was a little kid. I wanted to be able to compete with names like this.
“The flip side is it will be a tough challenge and, at times, I am going to need help as well.
“Everyone on the pitch will need their team-mates to help them out.
“That is what we need, a good togetherness to help each other out and try to keep a clean sheet as long as we can.”