LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool’s anthem says “You’ll Never Walk Alone” but solidarity was in short supply at Anfield in a 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace on Sunday, according to the Merseyside club’s new manager Juergen Klopp.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss was used to unstinting support from fans at the Westfalenstadion, even when things were not going well in his final season, so the sight of Liverpool fans walking out when Crystal Palace took the lead 10 minutes before the end clearly shocked him.
“The goal came after 82 minutes. Twelve minutes to go (eight plus stoppage time), and I saw many people leaving the stadium. I turn around and saw them go,” Klopp said.
“I felt pretty alone at this moment!”
For all the Premier League’s claims of being the best in the world, the atmosphere at most Bundesliga matches is unrivalled, singing is almost obligatory while nearly all fans proudly bring a club scarf or banner with them to the match — a habit that seems to be dying out in the Premier League.
Dortmund’s cavernous south stand, holding 25,000 fans, is known as the Yellow Wall.
“When you walk out of the tunnel at the Westfalenstadion, you come out and the place explodes, it’s like being born, except there aren’t as many people applauding when you’re born,” Klopp once said of Dortmund’s home support.
When Bayern Munich visited the Emirates Stadium recently to play Arsenal their fans kept up a cacophony of noise throughout, much of it orchestrated by individuals whose job it seemed was to conduct the choir, and it continued long after the final whistle sounded on a 2-0 defeat for their side.
At the Emirates on Sunday, where Arsenal drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur in a pulsating north London derby, the atmosphere was sedate at first, before livening up, but many Arsenal fans left well before the end with their side straining for a victory.
In Spain too, Real Madrid and Barcelona fans can be fickle, with many heading for the exits in times of trouble.
Traffic and transport problems play a part, but in the Bundesliga very few fans opt to leave early.
The English culture might take some getting used to for Klopp, who is clearly not afraid to speak his mind.
Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson has sympathy for the manager who is trying to turn Anfield back into a fortress.
“I think everybody should be there, seeing their team through, we’ve seen, especially in the Premier League so many late goals turning games,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think he’s trying to tell the fans, ‘yeah we are together and you the fans can play a massive part’ so next time it doesn’t happen. Maybe they will think twice about leaving early next time.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)