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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has learned lessons of keeping things in perspective

Jurgen Klopp has cried the bitter tears of disappointment on the last day before, but he is unlikely to do so on Sunday. Not because Liverpool are sure of winning the Premier League. His opportunity remains largely external.

Klopp will maintain his equanimity in part because he already has two trophies in the cabinet and the possibility of a third next weekend in Paris. But largely because his first two years in management at Mainz taught him to keep perspective.

Klopp fails well. Perhaps better than any other manager. Not that he likes to lose, but he has a gift for putting setbacks into a bigger picture, which is hugely inspiring.

Jurgen Klopp won't shed tears if Liverpool miss out on the Premier League title

Jurgen Klopp won’t shed tears if Liverpool miss out on the Premier League title

He started at Mainz in his first full season in management in 2001-02. He was the wunderkind of Bundesliga 2, the German second tier, as Mainz took an unlikely promotion spot for what would be an unprecedented spell in the top flight. The club needed three points from their last three matches but managed to pick up two, losing 3-1 to Union Berlin on the final day of the season.

“The dream of our life has been destroyed,” Klopp said, crying with the players in the locker room.

The following season, on the last day of 2003, they had to beat Eintracht Frankfurt by a goal to go up. Mainz was leading 4-0 and Frankfurt was leading 4-3 with ten minutes to go. But then Mainz conceded a late goal and Frankfurt scored twice in stoppage time to win 6-3 and thus move up at Mainz’s expense.

Klopp suffered last-day frustration in the early stages of his managerial career in Mainz

Klopp suffered last-day frustration in the early stages of his managerial career in Mainz

So when Klopp spoke last week about the importance of enjoying the ride regardless of the end result, it was a lesson learned from the experience. ‘I knew [this] at that time already,’ he said on Friday, recalling those Mainz defeats.

I’m not sure I said it at the time, but I thought about it. Out of 365 days, 364 days in Mainz were better than ever in our lives as footballers. And the last one was particularly bad. It’s up to us to judge what we do with it.

‘And I always did that: “OK, let’s try it and do 365 of that [next time]And so it is. But for that you also need the other 364. And that’s what we always did. Life in Mainz gave me another blow, because we didn’t get promoted by one point and then one goal, so it was a real test.

‘And then we got promoted. So things work out if you stay on track. If you stay in the right frame of mind. And that is what we will be. So, I learned it early. That’s the only way I can actually do it.

1653181406 537 Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has learned lessons of keeping things

And as he said before the FA Cup final: ‘If we’re only happy when we’re winning, when your career is over, what life would that be?’ In Mainz, however, he did more than simply provide perspective on setbacks. He positively used the moments to inspire the next season. He is still vividly remembered in Mainz the day after that second promotion failure and Klopp’s speech. In a city where football was not a big deal…

Mainz was still semi-professional in 1988: more than 10,000 fans turned out to greet the team at a town hall reception. Suddenly Klopp was on the microphone. “I was thinking about yesterday and decided that it must have happened for a good reason,” he said.

And I’ve decided that someone, somewhere, wanted to show the world that when you get knocked down, not once, not twice, but three or four times, you can get back up and keep fighting. And that person decided that there is no better city to show this to the world than Mainz.

In the 2001-02 campaign, Mainz lost promotion at the end of the campaign.

In the 2001-02 campaign, Mainz lost promotion at the end of the campaign.

‘Which club experienced what we did last season? Which club has been through what we’ve been through this season? And now, which club is going to have the history that we are going to have next season when we come back even stronger?

Later, he would tell his clubmates: ‘I didn’t know what I was going to say when I went up there. I just said what came into my head and spoke from my heart.

It may not have been planned, but it was transformative. “The mood instantly changed and it felt like a celebration and a rally,” said a colleague. Mainz were promoted the next season and now, 20 years later, they are an established force in the Bundesliga, eighth this season.

Liverpool will not fear failure on Sunday. if they don’t get past Manchester City who, for the second time in four years, racked up more than 90 points just to finish second. Klopp has been there and done that and he knows how to use the moment.

Amidst all the tension, it really does seem like he’s having the time of his life. ‘Absolutely,’ she said. ‘I’ve been lucky enough to have had some exciting moments. My wife asks why she always comes down on the last day of the game. It happens incredibly often. [But] it’s exciting to see how good the guys are and to see the steps we’ve taken.’

Liverpool will not fear failure on Sunday and have already achieved a lot this season.

Liverpool will not fear failure on Sunday and have already achieved a lot this season.

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