Schmadtke: I am Klopp’s ‘assistant’ as Liverpool Sporting Director

Schmadtke (right) joined Liverpool at the start of June

Schmadtke (right) joined Liverpool at the start of June

JORG SCHMADTKE has said he is effectively Jurgen Klopp’s ‘assistant’ in his role as Liverpool’s Sporting Director - and revealed that he will sit down with the club’s hierarchy at the end of the transfer window to discuss his future.

The 59-year-old German came out of retirement at the start of June to take over at Anfield following the resignation of Julian Ward at the end of last season.

He was recommended to Liverpool by Klopp's agent, Marc Kosicke, and signed a one-year contract with the Reds. In an interview in German with Welt am Sontagg, Schmadtke, who has previously been Sporting Director at Wolfsburg, Cologne, Hannover and Alemannia Aachen, said the role was very different in England compared to his homeland.

“I was aware of my position from the outset,” he said. “I knew the job description and went for it. I accept and respect this British combination in general. And in the specific case with Jurgen Klopp as my superior, it's even easier for me. The name Klopp stands for itself.

"It is well known that things are a little different in England than in Germany. The coach, who is called the manager here, is the decision-maker and determiner.

“So Jurgen Klopp is the pacesetter in Liverpool. In principle, I am a service provider, the assistant for Jurgen and the one who is responsible for the implementation of ideas and activities.


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"Even earlier [in my career], when there were arguments with coaches, I always emphasised that everyone has to have the same understanding of roles. In England, this is perfectly clear – and there is no question mark in my head. If I had thought that everyone had to dance to my tune, I would be completely wrong here.

"There is only one press conference per week [at Liverpool]. I find it extremely pleasant that only Jurgen speaks and no one else. Klopp is the face of Liverpool, the sole mouthpiece. I am happy that I no longer have to pursue many things that are part of it in a negative sense when you are in the public eye.”

Schmadtke’s comments don’t reflect the reality of the whole English game, however. Many clubs DO use the title Head Coach rather than manager, from Thomas Frank at Brentford to Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton to Unai Emery at Aston Villa. Every Premier League club now has a Sporting Director or equivalent, while the majority in the Championship do as well.

Speaking on Episode #48 of the TGG Podcast, Norwich City Sporting Director Stuart Webber said: “For me, it's a job where, in its purest form - like on the Continent - you appoint the Head Coach, make decisions on player recruitment, Academy pathway, facility development.

“Otherwise, if you’re just signing players, you’re Head of Recruitment. I did that job at Wolves. Here is definitely one of the purest ones. I would imagine Dan (Ashworth) has now probably got it at Newcastle, seeing the work he talks about up there.

“I think that's how the role should be as well. How can you be accountable for something if you haven’t got that autonomy? Really, then it’s like there’s someone who’s hiding who’s making those decisions.”

It could reflect the reality at Liverpool though, where Klopp has undoubtedly become the main football decision-maker following the departures of Sporting Directors Michael Edwards and Julian Ward, as well as Head of research Ian Graham.

Meanwhile, Schmadtke dismissed reports that he was only at Liverpool for the summer transfer window and explained that his position would be reviewed next month.

"A three-month contract? That's not true," he said. "We agreed on a year of co-operation and agreed to see what would happen after three months. We sit down together, look each other in the eye and decide how to proceed.

“Both sides are so sovereign and serious that the question is then answered - does it still make sense or not? It could be that we shake hands and part.

"I'm thrilled with this club, fascinated by the atmosphere there. It's a big club, but it exudes zero arrogance. I observe a great sense of togetherness, an optimal sense of togetherness, which is documented, for example, in the fact that in the canteen the professionals sit next to the secretaries and employees and the managers of the individual sections at the table of the young players.

“There is not such a strict separation as in Germany. And further [to that] top people work there at all levels who communicate well with each other. I enjoy working for this company.”

According to the Liverpool Echo, Schmadtke operates primarily from his home in Ibiza while flying into Merseyside on an ad-hoc basis for discussions at the AXA Training Centre in Kirkby.

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