Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not aware of managers who have struggled with mental health over the precarious nature of the job, although he admits he has long since decided to ignore both pressure and critics.
Klopp was speaking after Arsenal announced they had sacked head coach Unai Emery after a run of just one win in nine games in all competitions.
It means two of the Premier League’s ‘big-six’ clubs have opted to make a change despite seeing their teams contest European finals last season, with Tottenham having already dismissed Mauricio Pochettino this month.
Klopp, whose side sit top of the Premier League after 13 matches and beat Spurs in the Champions League final last term, says it is important for a manager to disregard outside noise about their future for the sake of their own peace of mind.
When asked about the prospect of coaches developing mental health concerns, he told reporters: “It’s an intense job, absolutely. I don’t think I’ve heard – not ever, but it’s really rare that I’ve heard – about a manager who struggled, physically, in a medical sense, because of that. I don’t really remember.
“There are a lot of things you have to accept before you do the job. A really important skill of a football manager is to ignore a lot of things around you. I’m pretty good at that. Knowing about pressure doesn’t mean you have to feel it constantly because you cannot use it, so ignore it. There is responsibility, yes, a lot, but that’s a fact before you start, so you can ignore it and just do your best.
“Maybe sometimes it doesn’t work out for reasons you can’t have an influence on. It happens from time to time. I haven’t experienced this. The main problem I think is it’s in public, constantly. Everything we do is judged, criticised, whatever, and I decided long ago to ignore that as well. I have no clue what exactly is written about us.
“If our results are bad, I feel bad, and if they are good, I feel good. I don’t think there are a lot of managers out there who struggle with it, but it’s nice that you think about that. On behalf of all the other managers, thank you very much for caring.”
56 – When Arsenal play Norwich City on Sunday, it’ll be 56 days since their last Premier League victory. This is their longest wait for a league win within a season since the 56 days between January 1st and February 26th 1994. Crisis. pic.twitter.com/wA9vsWI0SJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 29, 2019
Klopp concedes he was “surprised” to hear of Emery’s departure but expects the former Paris Saint-Germain boss to recover quickly.
“It’s how the football world is,” he said. “It’s our life. It’s what you sign the moment you sign a contract. We have to make the best of the situation at a club.
“I wish him all the best, of course. He is an outstanding manager and showed that in so many different countries. He will be fine in the future but I’m sure he had big ambitions at Arsenal. Now, Arsenal need to find a solution. Freddie [Ljungberg] is taking the [interim] job now, so that’s how it is. There are younger coaches out there, maybe less experienced, but maybe he can take the chance.”
Closer to home, Klopp was delighted to see Liverpool’s plans to expand Anfield by 7,000 seats, although he is not certain it will make the stadium any more difficult for opposition teams.
“You can lose in a stadium with 100,000 people in!” he said. “It’s really early stages so I don’t know what I can say, but I saw pictures and it looks really good.
“The best news of that is this club is constantly trying to develop and make the next steps, and that’s what I like about the news. Making this iconic place available for more people is a very good idea. It’s exciting.”
Klopp also sent a message to the families affected by the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, after a jury on Thursday cleared former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 people killed at the stadium.
“Our thoughts and our love is with the families and we are there for them,” he said. “I can imagine it’s a big disappointment, big frustration, sadness of course, that this looks like the final verdict.”