Under the radar

It was just what we expected. Of course, the talk incessantly grew throughout the week, before boiling over at the weekend in a noisy hive of opinions on an already saturated topic. Every sports report, every back page and almost every inch of Saturday’s pre-match build-up was dominated by one word. Klopp. Of course it was. 

We all knew it would happen from the moment Liverpool confirmed the appointment, but still the media attention was greater than we could imagine – BT Sport viewers were particularly ‘lucky’ to be graced with ‘Klopp cam’. It’s nothing new for the Red half of Merseyside to dominate the sporting headlines in Britain of course – it’s a common theme for fans of other clubs to share their annoyance at the bias in today’s media and the disproportionate amount of ex-Liverpool players filling the pundit’s chairs. Yet still it grates.

Klopp’s arrival in England is certainly a headline moment – the German has been one of the most sought after coaches in football for a few years now and his infectious smile and jovial attitude will undoubtedly be a joy to experience. He’ll definitely have many more fans outside and inside Anfield than Brendan Rodgers ever did. Whether he’ll be a success results-wise remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a venture that deserves attention.

However, when one club and topic is hogging all the limelight, it will naturally grow tiresome. Tottenham and their fans happened to be the unlucky ones, in that we’ve had to endure the full force of Kloppomania at its height, with his first game in charge being at White Hart Lane. Amongst the excitement, expectation and hyperbole, Tottenham’s presence in the match was almost completely erased. It could have been any club, but it hurts when it’s yours that has been rendered insignificant by the obsessive media coverage. 

The issue was particularly frustrating for some fans because, in the last decade in particular, Tottenham are not insignificant compared to Liverpool at all. Spurs rarely receive the same attention as the ‘big five’, despite finishing above Liverpool in five of the last six seasons. When your club is not getting the credit it deserves for its achievements, and Spurs have certainly achieved as much as the Reds in recent times, it’s easy to feel angered.

The disproportionate amount of media attention is certainly irritating, though it may not be such a bad thing for Tottenham. It was massively exciting when Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić filled the back pages under Harry Redknapp, but this quieter team perhaps need to stay out of the spotlight in order to thrive. Mauricio Pochettino is indeed the polar opposite of Redknapp; it seems the Argentine tries his upmost to be as boring and unquotable as possible. This isn’t a negative for the club at all – no unnecessary attention, no added pressure, no potential backlash when things go wrong.

As we know, Pochettino is building a side from the ground up, a side that gained plenty of negative press from all corners before his arrival. He needs time and patience and slowly we are beginning to look like a team, not a group of individuals. For a young core of players, the harsh and fickle attention of media is perhaps an unwanted distraction and without it Pochettino can make sure he nurtures talent like Nabil Bentaleb, Dele Alli and Harry Kane, who has already felt the weight of negative headlines.

Perhaps too, we can enjoy our role as the unwanted younger brother that hangs on to his older brother, the ‘big five’, when he’s trying to act cool and grown-up with his mates at Sky Sports. We don’t quite seem to fit the desired narrative, but it’s fun to try and cause a disturbance, much to the annoyance of big brother. 

If we can continue our upward trajectory and achieve good things under Pochettino, the rewards may feel even greater by breaking the status quo. When we fractured the monopoly of the top four in 2010, it was all the more enjoyable because it was so unexpected at the start of the season. We didn’t achieve it by spending similar amounts to those around us, but by forming a cohesive team with a collective drive and desire. 

Perhaps it is to the advantage of Pochettino and his youthful team to be doing their work behind the scenes, away from the media glare. If you can drown out the noise surrounding Klopp and the rest of the teams at the top, embrace that we’re doing it the quiet way. It’s more fun than you think. 

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