Book Review: I want to be like Jürgen Klopp: And other strange thoughts about football by Oscar Oberg
Oscar Oberg is a Swedish journalist who has three great loves – football, philosophy and comedy. In I want to be like Jürgen Klopp: And other strange thoughts about football, Oberg combines all three in a collection of forty-one thought-provoking essays.
As the reader journeys through these compositions, the names of players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, sit side-by-side with writers such as Henry Miller and Leo Tolstoy, comedians like Billy Connolly and philosophers such as Nietzsche and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
There is so much to enjoy from these essays which cover a wide range of ideas and in the process ask questions of the reader. There are for instance the five conundrums titled as Hypothetically, one of which asks:
A medical researcher (and football geek) at Umea University in northern Sweden has created a pill that makes you void of any “negative” emotions while watching a football game. The pill also have the power to smoothen your mood if your favourite team lose, i.e., you will not behave like an asshole towards your partner hours after the game. No study has been done on the long-term consequences, but the ingredients in the pill are non-dangerous, and the short-term consequences are obviously positive. Will you take the pill? If not: Why?
The reader also gets to learn, how amongst other things, Oberg came to support Arsenal, why he admires the punditry of Gary Neville and what St.Totteringham’s Day is. Elsewhere, there are appreciations of the talents of Redondo, Rui Costa, Filippo Inzaghi and Luis Suarez, the football journeys of Osvaldo Alonso and Victor Valdes and players such as Freddy Edu and Sebastian Deisler, who never quite reached the heights their early careers promised.
Throughout the essays run a philosophical and spiritual core, the values of which are undoubtedly important to Oberg and the way he leads his life and for the way he enjoys football. This gives rise to the author’s vision of a game where mistakes can be made, and the players should be not afraid to – a game where being in the ‘now’ and finding a natural connection and flow can create magic – a game which should fill us with emotion, but always in context – and most of all a game we should love and be grateful for.
The final essay takes the books title and is the longest of the dissertations. Here Oberg details his appreciation of the recently appointed Liverpool coach, who the author admires for his free spirit, ability to live in the moment, man-management skills and a dash of magic.
A minor gripe is that the essays could have benefited from more vigorous proof-reading, but overall this doesn’t detract from what is a wonderfully stimulating body of work which looks at football in an original and alternative manner.