Jürgen Klopp became Liverpool manager on October 8, 2015, and it’s fair to say that he wasted no time in becoming a firm favourite with the fans and this is reflected in the banners they’ve produced.
As with his Spanish predecessor, Rafa Benitez, the flags have reflected Klopp’s German origins in a variety of interesting, and often ways, and at the same time, again as with Benitez, they have also staked a claim to him as Liverpool’s own.
Take this one, for example:
The German national flag forms the background, thus acknowledging where he’s come from, but the omnipresent Liverpool is also here, larger than often elsewhere, and placed in the centre, which lends it visual emphasis.
The text, ‘Jürgen Meister’ is also worth noticing. Obviously, it’s a play on the German drink Jägermeister, and the font used is fairly close to the one used in the advertising:
What is perhaps less obvious is that ‘Meister’ does not only translate into English as ‘master’, as in a master craftsman or chess master, for example, but also as ‘champion’. The German football champions are the Fußballmeister.
This flag is a good example of how the banners are in conversation with one another and acknowledge that Klopp has now joined that conversation, perhaps even become one of its biggest talking points ever:
I particularly like the handmade materiality of this banner, as if it was done at speed to take to an event. Still, the usual care is taken over getting things right – note that umlaut! What is interesting about this is that it links to a very well-known flag (well, if you know anything about LFC banners, anyway…) which is this one:
Nobody knows the actual origin of this phrase, but it has been much copied (there is a Spanish version, for example) but it is generally seen to be a rallying flag for the LFC ‘troops’ to gather behind. What makes the ‘Steins for my men’ version interesting, is the layered way it references the original. In changing the wine to ‘Steins’ (a Stein being a roughly 2-pint measure of German beer) the author of the banner has not only localized it to Klopp’s Germany, but also shown their linguistically playful side by choosing a (highly appropriate) rhyme to replace the original ‘wine’. I feel less comfortable about the overtones of militaristic triumphalism in the ‘über alles’, but it is in the German national anthem, after all, and maybe this flag is a heartening sign that we now associate them with the quality of German football, a quality the fans will be hoping Klopp brings to LFC.
This flag, rather than playing on Klopp’s German heritage, refers to his current position in Liverpool and ties belonging to LFC to the use of Scouse:
I took this photo at the League Cup semi-final at Wembley last year when he was relatively new to the club but had already made quite an impression. There’s an odd formality to using his full name that is then counterpoised with the Scouse phrase ‘Bass tha’ (That’s great)- note the inversion of the word order (influence of Irish?) and the use of a particularly Scouse vocabulary item, ‘boss’ and the attempt to reflect Scouse pronunciation by leaving off the final ‘t’. It’s my assumption that this flag also has an intertextual link to an official LFC video in which a young fan gives Klopp a lesson in Scouse, including that phrase, ‘bass tha’:
Jürgen Klopp learns Scouse from a kid: BOSS THA!
This was published on November 25, 2015, so just a matter of weeks after he’d joined. So, a shrewd piece of marketing by the club, eager to get the fans to take to their new manager, or an authentic taste of what was to come from Klopp, who has always been known for the intimate identity he believes has to be forged between a manager, a team, and the fans? Either way, it works and all we can say is: