After the recent debate over simulation by players and the unnecessary pressuring of referees in the Bundesliga, it is perhaps time for Juergen Klopp to grow up and stop making the whistle-blowers' lives harder still.
The contrast between Klopp and his opposite number, Lucien Favre, in last Saturday's 2-1 win for Moenchengladbach in Dortmund in the 'Borussia Derby' was striking: the Swiss exuding a Svennis-like serenity as his team scored a rare win against the Schwarzgelb, Klopp kicking his heels and looking sheepish in the stands near the 'Gladbach dug-out after being sent off by referee Deniz Aytekin.
"I've often been punished justly in my life, but not this time," grumbled Klopp after being handed a 10,000 euro (£8,300) fine by the German Football Federation following his latest dug-out outrage, provoked by Herr Aytekin failing - in Klopp's view - to give his side a penalty when Filip Daems handled. "I only called out: 'And you don't whistle there?' Albeit with my world-renowned expression on my face. But he can't send me off for that."
Commentating for Eurosport, I did myself remark that it had been one of Klopp's more understated rants, but his consant harrying and - at times - naked aggression towards the fourth official in particular surely has to stop.
The reason he does not come under more fire for his behaviour is simple: he's great with the media, and he's successful. Who hasn't raised a smile at one of his clever quips? His press conferences, like those of Jose Mourinho, are a must for us journalists, rare occasions when otherwise staid and cliche-ridden affairs are infused with the life, passion, bravado and humour that the game needs.
But Klopp, also like Mourinho, often oversteps the mark. "My emotiveness has many positive aspects, but also negative," Klopp himself remarked after being sent to the stands just 30 minutes into Dortmund's Champions League group stage campaign after getting in the face of referee Pedro Proenca's fourth official following Napoli's opening goal.
The 2-1 defeat in Italy eventually did not prove fatal as Dortmund, despite their coach's absence from the touchline for their next two games, beat both Marseille and Arsenal. Had those fixtures been reversed, however, and Dortmund not headed to north London following a morale-building 3-0 defeat of OM, Klopp's hot-headed actions may have had more damaging consequences.
Klopp may argue, with some justification, putting pressure on referees is what all great coaches do. Sir Alex Ferguson had more than his fair share of run-ins with the boys in black (well, they used to be in black, I'm old school), Mourinho too, and they have the honours list behind them that they would say proves them right. Klopp too, though admittedly his over-exuberance in the face of the officials is more in keeping with the almost childlike delight he shows when his team scores, and seems less calculated and cynical than that of some of his colleagues. "In such an atmosphere, when it's boiling over inside the stadium, you have to be allowed to lose control," he argued after Saturday's red card, the third of his Bundesliga career.
That passion can - as Klopp pointed out - have its up sides. 'A goon' in ice hockey is a rough-and-tumble player who is generally employed to take out the opposition's star man, but can also be used to merely deliberately start a fight with an opponent in an attempt by his coach to fire up an under-performing team. At times, Klopp's enthusiasm must fuel the fires of his players, but surely that should be confined to the dressing room.
How can it help to have your boss sent from the technical area like a naughty schoolboy half-an-hour into a big European game? What if that happens 30 minutes into the first leg of the quarter-final tie Dortmund will have this season? Klopp tends to shun his habitual matchday hoodie and club badge-embossed streetwear for a suit when the Champions League matches come along. I just wish he would smarten up his act for every game.
Ian Holyman - @ian_holyman
- Sports & Recreation