Lockdown reviews – Klopp: Bring The Noise
Written by @JamesMartin013
There’s no football of any description – fantasy or otherwise – for at least the next few weeks, which leaves a desperate need for a sports fix. Belarusian league aside, most people are finding the best option to be sports books and documentaries. In the third instalment of his mini-series, James Martin reviews Raphael Honigstein’s book ‘Klopp: Bring The Noise’…
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but everybody does. The front of Raphael Honigstein’s work makes a bold claim: the definitive Jurgen Klopp biography. Only a truly excellent book could live up to this billing, particularly given that Klopp is one of the largest characters in football today. This is such a book – it delivers on its promise, providing a comprehensive and insightful account of a fascinating life and career.
It immediately becomes clear that this is a seriously-researched piece of writing. The very first chapter features an account from Isolde Reich, Klopp’s sister. Lesser works would have saved this coup of a contributor, but Honigstein knows that his entire book is backed up by the thoughts and opinions of weighty names from across Klopp’s personal and professional life.
He sets the scene carefully, giving some background on the Swabian region and the ethos that characterises its people. Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue is a phrase that, once planted in your head, repeatedly returns to you as you read more about Klopp’s achievements – work, work, build a house.
Opening on Klopp’s homeland and birth perhaps gives a false sense that the book will be entirely chronological, but readers are quickly disabused of this notion. The next chapter leaps to his step from player to player-manager at Mainz: this is the beginning of his main journey, his ‘zero hour’, and the jump to this point in the story is a very effective one.
The next two chapters give accounts of his appointments at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool respectively, again accompanied by excellent pieces of insider insight. Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke sheds a great deal of light on the thinking behind approaching Klopp: “We wanted to promise people a team that ran so hard that bits would come off.” Exactly how Klopp had already forged this reputation becomes clearer in later chapters – the part about his insightful television work increasing his stature is particularly illuminating – but in these early stages Honigstein does little more than sketch an outline of the managerial journey so far.
This initial disregard for strict chronology is highly impactful. It also gives near-instant gratification to anyone who has decided to read the book because they are a fan of one of Klopp’s clubs – this is a shrewd move for hooking people. However, while it seems as though the book is about to settle into a linear account after this, in fact it continues to jump around a reasonable amount: it is almost as restless as Klopp on the touchline in places. The only real criticism is that sometimes this is a little too frenetic, but if there is to be a fault in a book about Jurgen Klopp then surely this is a fitting one.
In any case, it hardly detracts from what is undoubtedly an exceptional biography. Interestingly, despite being a Liverpool supporter, I probably found the parts focused on Mainz most compelling – to get an insight into the formative days of Klopp felt like being let in on a secret.
His tutelage as a player under Wolfgang Frank explains much about how his teams play some 25 years later. Equally, his own statements from the early years of management reveal some of his footballing fundamentals. Honigstein tracked down two big interviews from Klopp’s time at Mainz – this was long before his ideas were widely accepted, and his way of selling them is fascinating. “We want to dominate the game… especially when we don’t have the ball. We want the opponent to play the ball into precisely the areas we want him to play it into.”
Of course, with a subject as vivid as Klopp, some of the hard work has been done already – his analysis and his witticisms could fill tomes on their own. His remark that he could write a book on winning semi-finals – “but no-one would buy it, probably” – sums up his charm and self-deprecating wit. Even so, Honigstein deserves immense credit for allowing this to shine through while supplementing it so comprehensively with other sources, all of which add value in one way or another.
Ilkay Gundogan and Neven Subotic are just two of the many who, alongside Watzke, shed light on the Dortmund days. For Liverpool, director Mike Gordon provides similar insight, supported by the likes of Adam Lallana and Jamie Carragher. Combined, they give an idea of what it is like to work for Klopp, to hire Klopp, to watch Klopp come into your club and turn it around. Others paint pictures of Klopp the friend, Klopp the brother.
The ‘definitive’ label is well-earned.
Review written by James Martin
James is a sports journalist with a focus on football. He began writing for LFC Fans Corner over seven years ago, and has since been featured on the club website and The Independent among others. He graduated from Oxford in 2019, and holds the Gold Standard NCTJ Diploma in Journalism.
His portfolio can be found at http://jamesmartin013.journoportfolio.com