Jurgen Klopp: Rivalries, records and kingpins of his career as 1,000th game arrives for Liverpool boss

By Sports Desk January 20, 2023

Jurgen Klopp reaches 1,000 games as a head coach and manager on Saturday when Liverpool tackle Chelsea, and it has been quite a ride.

From a relegation battle with Mainz in the German second division to the heights of Champions League glory with Liverpool, Klopp has achieved more than anyone expected of a man whose playing career was distinctly modest.

It would be stretching it to say the signs were there from day one, but they were certainly there from day two.

Klopp was named as an interim replacement for Eckhard Krautzun when Mainz decided on a change of leader on February 27, 2001.

One day later, Klopp made his debut as a coach in the second tier of the Bundesliga. He had been a player in the team until that point, but this marked the beginning of a new chapter.

Club president Harald Strutz, quoted in the Rheinische Post at the time, voiced the suggestion the interim boss could stake a claim for the full-time job.

"Maybe that will be a permanent solution," Strutz said, presciently.

Midfielder Christof Babatz, who would be a significant figure in Mainz's rise to the Bundesliga under Klopp, then said after the first game resulted in a 1-0 win over Duisburg: "The coach teased that certain something out of us."

And so began the story of Klopp's touchline career, one centred on teasing out the very best from the talent at his disposal, nurturing prospects into polished performers, and tallying trophies along the way. From Mainz, to Borussia Dortmund, and eventually to Liverpool, Klopp has delivered on that initial leap of faith.

There have been league titles, cup triumphs and big European final nights with Liverpool and Dortmund, plus promotion and even a relegation during his formative Mainz days.

Here, Stats Perform looks at those first 999 games, as Opta data shows some essential numbers behind one of the 21st century's great coaching careers.

Pep, Howe, Hecking and Magath – Klopp's rivalries

Klopp has faced Pep Guardiola more than any other rival manager, going head-to-head with the Catalan 27 times across their careers.

There have been notable defeats along the way, including the 2014 DFB-Pokal final, when Klopp's Dortmund went down 2-0 to Guardiola's Bayern, and the 5-0 and 4-0 thrashings meted out by Manchester City to Liverpool in September 2017 and July 2020, both of which rank among the top nine heaviest defeats Klopp has had to stomach.

However, Klopp has the overall upper hand across their meetings, winning 11, drawing seven and losing nine of those games.

He has faced only one other boss more than 20 times: German Dieter Hecking, against whom Klopp pitted his wits 21 times, winning 11, drawing five and losing five. Hecking bossed Lubeck, Alemannia Aachen, Hannover, Nurnberg and Wolfsburg during Klopp's time in the German leagues.

Klopp certainly has a happy record against Newcastle United's former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, achieving 11 wins from their 13 meetings.

This shows the most wins Klopp has had against any boss is 11, against Guardiola, Hecking and Howe, while it can be revealed the team he has beaten the most are Freiburg (13 times), followed by Crystal Palace, Nurnberg and Arsenal (all 12).

His real nemesis appears to have been Felix Magath, the former Stuttgart, Bayern, Wolfsburg and Schalke coach. In 14 games against Magath teams, Klopp won only three times, losing eight.

Bayern have had the most wins against Klopp, with 16. No other team have reached double figures, with Hamburg, Schalke and Wolfsburg (all nine) next on the list.

The milestones, the biggest and the best... and the games he'd rather forget

Klopp won that first match of his career against Duisburg, and to date he has never lost on each 100th game on his way towards 1,000 as a boss.

There have been wins against the way against Bochum (200th game), Werder Bremen (300th), his old club Mainz (400th), Freiburg (500th) and Southampton (600th), and draws on his 700th, 800th and 900th games, against Newcastle, Chelsea and Real Madrid, respectively. Klopp's 100th game was also a draw, against Unterhaching with Mainz.

His biggest win was the 9-0 trouncing that Liverpool dished out to Bournemouth in August of this season, and his Liverpool team have also hit seven in a game five times (Maribor, Spartak Moscow, Crystal Palace, Lincoln City and Rangers), while his biggest win as a boss in Germany was Dortmund's 6-0 crushing of Arminia Bielefeld in May 2009.

Klopp has suffered four defeats by five-goal margins, the worst he has had to endure, with Aston Villa inflicting two of those: 7-2 in October 2020 and 5-0 in December 2019 – albeit the latter with Klopp and his frontline Liverpool stars out of the country on Club World Cup duty. There was also a 6-1 torching for Mainz at the hands of Werder Bremen in October 2006, and Liverpool's 5-0 whipping by Guardiola's City.

When it comes to promoting young talent, Klopp has rarely hesitated. His youngest player was Harvey Elliott, now a first-team squad regular at Liverpool, who faced MK Dons in the EFL Cup at the age of 16 years and 174 days in September 2019.

Klopp has fielded five 16-year-olds for Liverpool, plus seven 17-year-olds, while he also gave chances to the 17-year-old Mario Gotze at Dortmund, and Mario Vrancic, also 17, during his time at Mainz. Gotze went on to become a World Cup final match-winner.

His oldest player was Peter Neustadter, a Kazakh defender who was older than Klopp himself, aged 37 years and 176 days, when he turned out for Mainz against Alemannia Aachen in the Bundesliga's second tier in August 2003.

Warhorse midfielder James Milner could yet break that record as the oldest Liverpool player to have appeared for Klopp, aged 37 years and 13 days when he played in the recent FA Cup replay win against Wolves this week.

James Woodburn remains the youngest scorer for Klopp after hitting the net against Leeds in an EFL Cup clash in November 2016 at the age of 17 years and 45 days, while Sebastian Kehl ranks as his oldest scorer – 35 years and 53 days old when he bagged for Dortmund against Hoffenheim in a DFB-Pokal quarter-final in April 2015.

Klopp's kingpins

Roberto Firmino has played more games for Klopp than anyone, racking up 341 outings for Liverpool under the manager, with Milner (301) next on the list.

When it comes to starters, though, we get a different picture, with former Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller top of the list with 280 games, followed by another BVB stalwart, Neven Subotic (278), and then Firmino (277 starts). Milner is a long way down that list, with 112 of the veteran's appearances for Klopp having come as a substitute.

Mohamed Salah has made 282 appearances and 261 starts for Klopp, and when it comes to scorers for the Reds manager, the brilliant Egyptian is the untouchable number one.

His 173 goals put him streets ahead of Klopp's next highest scorer, Sadio Mane (120), with Firmino (107) and former Dortmund supreme finisher Robert Lewandowski (103) being the only other players to reach three figures.

Among players with 10 or more goals for Klopp teams, Salah has also scored at the fastest rate, netting once every 133 minutes, with Lewandowski in a tie for second place with Darwin Nunez, both scoring at one per 139 minutes. Nunez scrapes onto the list, having scored 10 times so far.

Lewandowski hit four hat-tricks for Klopp's Dortmund, while Salah has managed five for Liverpool under the German.

Both men once hit four in a game for Klopp, with Lewandowski doing so in a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, and Salah in a Premier League match against Watford.

The manager teased plenty out of those two down the years, and Klopp will doubtless look to Salah, a former Chelsea player, to ensure his 1,000th game brings cause for celebration.

Related items

  • Mikel Arteta loves Arsenal’s attacking mentality during ruthless goalscoring run Mikel Arteta loves Arsenal’s attacking mentality during ruthless goalscoring run

    Mikel Arteta insists there is no secret to Arsenal’s recent success as he praised his side following victory over Newcastle.

    The Gunners eased to a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday night to move two points off the top of the Premier League summit.

    A Sven Botman own goal set them on their way before goals from Kai Havertz, Bukayo Saka and Jakub Kiwior rounded off another fine display from Arteta’s men, although the returning Joe Willock’s late header ruined another clean sheet.

    Arsenal may have laboured to a narrow 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie in Porto on Wednesday – but their domestic form has been imperious.

    Asked what has clicked in a run that included 6-0 and 5-0 away wins at West Ham and Burnley, respectively, before beating Newcastle, Arteta said: “We’re in a good moment. Players are performing individually, it is not any secret.

    “Things are flowing. We’re scoring goals in different ways and especially we want more. When we score one, we want two, or three, or four. I love that mentality from the team.

    “We train every day the best possible way and look after ourselves. First of all though, belief. Belief in yourself that you can improve and always get better. Also getting players back.

    “The more players we have back, the more competition there will be in the team, the more alternatives to impact the game. Especially we have to make sure we believe we can do it.”

    Jorginho returned to the Arsenal side for the game against the Magpies and put in a man-of-the-match display.

    The Italy midfielder has impressed in most outings this season, but was only on the bench in Portugal.

    “He’s a top player,” added Arteta. “Especially when opponents have certain behaviours and set-ups, the way I imagine the game, he was going to have a big impact.

    “After, you have to do it at this level. When he’s not playing consistently, credit to him because he was magnificent again.”

    Newcastle were not at the races and have now shipped 23 goals in their past eight league games.

    “It is a concern,” manager Eddie Howe conceded when asked about the recent defensive record.

    “Of course, we are working on things behind the scenes, but that probably was not evident in today’s performance.

    “It is a combination of things, we didn’t do well from corners, knew how good they are in those situations and the third goal as well.

    “We were the dominant team and we’d have been right back in the game if we’d got that goal, so difficult moments defensively.

    “I don’t think we truly got going in the first half, they put us under pressure, I thought that would be just the start of the game, but at no stage did we really come out of that moment.

    “We did not compete well enough which is not like us. It is something to learn from.”

  • Ashley Westwood rejuvenated by good Charlotte move Ashley Westwood rejuvenated by good Charlotte move

    Ashley Westwood was on the brink of retirement at Burnley but the rejuvenated midfielder now wants to play into his forties as he lives the American dream with Charlotte FC.

    In April 2022, the distraught 33-year-old suffered a devastating ankle injury as he challenged for the ball with West Ham’s Nikola Vlasic.

    For a while Westwood’s 286th Premier League appearance looked set to be the last match he would ever play.

    The gruelling journey back to fitness took its toll on the usually upbeat midfielder, who did not play again for Burnley before leaving last January.

    Westwood took a calculated gamble by moving to Charlotte, playing in what was their second Major League Soccer season, and could not be happier with the outcome.

    “It’s incredible,” the smiling Charlotte skipper said. “Even last year I was close to retiring, very close.

    “I broke my ankle, made a mess and then it got to halfway through the rehab and I was like ‘I’ve had enough, I’m done’.

    “Even before that I was getting fed up with it. With what Burnley did, it was just constantly trying to stay above the relegation.

    “I had like 10-12 years of it, and it gets a lot. Mentally it gets tough, so then I fell out of love with it.

    “But then (came) the opportunity to come here and it’s just the best thing I’ve ever done.”

    Westwood says Burnley “still hold a special place in my heart” and returned to visit Vincent Kompany and his former team-mates over Christmas.

    The Crewe youth product is eternally grateful to the Clarets for allowing him to join Charlotte – somewhere he sees as his long-term home having been unable to place it on a map until not so long ago.

    “It’s given me a massive boost, a new lease of life,” the former Aston Villa midfielder said of life in the Queen City, where Dean Smith was recently appointed head coach.

    “I could have some regrets because I asked to leave Burnley and Vinny (Kompany) was brilliant, he let me go.

    “I was honest with him. I went in and said ‘listen, this has come about’ but they needed to get me on a free because of the wage structure.

    “So, I spoke to Vinny and he said ‘we don’t want to lose you but I respect the decision’ and he sent me on my way.

    “And it has given me a new lease of life. It’s been the best thing for me and my family – the kids are thriving, the wife’s enjoying it.

    “Hopefully I’ll be going until I’m 40. I want to stay here a long time.”

    Westwood moved to MLS at an exciting time for the sport in North America, with the 2026 World Cup following on the back of Lionel Messi’s blockbuster move to Inter Miami.

    Little wonder some former team-mates, from England internationals to Premier League regulars, have expressed interest in following him across the pond.

    “You’ve got Messi, (Luis) Suarez and even now I get texts from mates saying ‘what’s it like? I’d love to do it’, so it’s getting more appealing,” Westwood added.

    “They’ve got the World Cup here and if they get that right it could take off. There’s a lot around the budgets and the way the wage cap is.

    “Our owner is willing to do it (and pay more), he wants to go for it, but it’s just about getting all the other owners on board. If they get right, it can take off.”

  • Mauricio Pochettino says he has no issue with Jurgen Klopp ahead of final clash Mauricio Pochettino says he has no issue with Jurgen Klopp ahead of final clash

    Mauricio Pochettino insisted there is nothing personal between him and Jurgen Klopp ahead of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final meeting with Liverpool on Sunday.

    The pair faced off in the 2019 Champions League final when the Argentinian was in charge of Tottenham, losing 2-0 in Madrid to hand his opposite number a first trophy at Anfield.

    The game is remembered for controversy after Spurs’ Moussa Sissoko was penalised for a contentious handball inside the opening minute, resulting in Mohamed Salah giving Liverpool the lead from the spot.

    More recently the Reds were 4-1 winners against Chelsea in the Premier League at the end of January, when Pochettino’s side were outclassed by their hosts and fell well short of expectations set by the more than £1billion it cost to assemble their squad.

    Since then there has been a notable upturn in performances, with three impressive away results including a 1-1 draw against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a week ago.

    As he seeks his first silverware in England, the 51-year-old said neither he nor his players are motivated by revenge against their Wembley opponents.

    “It’s nothing against Jurgen Klopp or Liverpool,” he said. “We love to compete with the best teams and Liverpool as a club, and Klopp with his coaching staff and the players, I think they are amazing. You love to compete with this type of organisation.

    “It’s not personal against Klopp or against Liverpool to have revenge. It’s a challenge for us to say ‘we have the possibility to write history, winning a trophy’. That is our biggest motivation. That is my motivation.”

    Chelsea followed the loss on Merseyside with a dismal 4-2 defeat at home to Wolves that saw sections of the home support boo the team off.

    Since then, the atmosphere around the club has improved significantly, with the draw at City preceded by consecutive 3-1 wins at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace that have injected renewed hope into the team’s season.

    “We didn’t compete (at Anfield),” said Pochettino. “If you see the first two minutes, we didn’t match them in the capacity to compete. We created some chances and there (should have been) a penalty after five minutes with (Conor) Gallagher that may change the situation.

    “But the most important thing now in this process is to challenge ourselves to be better. If you want to challenge another person, but you are not ready… You need to put your body and your mind in the best condition. If we are in the best condition, we are going to challenge.”

    Pochettino rejected the suggestion that victory on Sunday would prompt critics to move on from the huge transfer outlay expended by co-owner Todd Boehly since he took control in May 2022.

    “It’s not easy in football,” he said. “It’s not an ordinary business. People know that it’s not only about spending money. It helps, but it’s not only.

    “You need time if you want to build something. That is the process that we are involved in now.

    “You cannot buy victories. You cannot buy trophies. Money helps, but it doesn’t give trophies.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.