Bad cop good for Reds
Liverpool's Klopp shows there's no room for indiscipline
The parallels are uncanny.
Two pre-season tours in the United States, two irritated Liverpool managers and two cheeky footballers; it really is the tale of two videos.
On this occasion, however, the Anfield faithful have reason to be cheerful. Juergen Klopp playing the bad guy is good news for Liverpool.
The Reds coach sent Mamadou Sakho home after the defender repeatedly broke in-house rules, an unprecedented move, but a welcome one for a club traditionally renowned for their disciplinary flakiness.
Mamadou Sakho. PHOTO: REUTERS
Four years ago, Brendan Rodgers found himself in an almost identical position.
He was also embarrassed on camera and on American soil, too. So he puffed out his chest and played to the camera, doing a decent Ricky Gervais doing David Brent doing an office tough guy, but doing himself no favours.
Rodgers pointed a finger at Raheem Sterling and told the then 17-year-old that he would be on the next plane home if he continued to make sarcastic comments.
But Sterling stayed and later damaged Rodgers' reputation with the winger's exorbitant wage demands and transfer dispute.
Rodgers never recovered from the crass Sterling debacle.
Do watch the video online, however. It's hilarious.
But watch the Sakho video first. It's telling.
At a trip to San Francisco's infamous Alcatraz prison, of all places, the French defender decides to sabotage Klopp's TV interview, interrupting to make silly comments and belittle his boss.
Klopp doesn't point fingers or puff his chest out. He betrays no obvious anger. Instead, he laughs like an assassin, already plotting.
He plays to the camera in the right way, making no hollow threats or grandiose promises of retribution. But the air of menace is unmistakable.
A little while later, Sakho was booted out of their American tour. He really was on the next plane home.
In a hectic period of daily transfer updates and one-paced friendlies, this development stands out most.
Liverpool are blessed with a unique good-cop, bad-cop routine in the dugout, with both roles being performed by the same man; a Machiavellian manager who was both revered and feared at Borussia Dortmund.
Ever since the boys from the Boot Room went their separate ways, the Reds have suffered from the ill-disciplined stereotype, often dismissed as a bunch of dandies in white suits at Wembley. Talented Spice Boys with a soft centre.
Once Kenny Dalglish left the club, first time round, Liverpool have arguably struggled to get the balance right. Graeme Souness was feared, but never revered, with too many poor signings damaging his reputation.
Roy Evans struggled to shake off the "Nice Guy" tag, later conceding that the sudden influx of cash and the rise of player power created an environment that he struggled to understand.
The confused Roy Hodgson was neither feared nor revered and Rodgers could never quite decide which one he wanted to be.
Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez had their moments, obviously, but always laboured in the shadow of the man who achieved both like no other.
In the Anfield dugout, they all paled in comparison to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Just mentioning his name at this juncture will inevitably lead to much eye-rolling among the Liverpool hardcore, but consider this.
Would a Manchester United player have been allowed to ridicule their dictatorial leader on camera? Would he even dare to try?
The obvious answer is the reason Roy Keane, in his prime, found the Reds so insufferable, living off past reputations and sending out powder-puff teams, all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Liverpool's lack of ruthlessness in the dugout manifested itself on the pitch, with too many near misses and heart-rending title failures, as if a substantial ingredient was absent, always too much flaky pastry and not enough meat.
But that might be about to change.
Calmly and dispassionately, Klopp pointed out that Sakho had already missed a plane, a training session and then turned up late for a dinner. He had to go.
Liverpool's manager appears happy to entertain and indulge his players, but not player power. The subtle difference is crucial.
A little clowning in camp can boost morale, but Klopp controls the circus.
He never mentioned his defender's TV prank, but the outcome was unequivocal. Only Sakho got punked.