Klopp is the joy-bringer we can all love…

I can’t watch TV news any more. I just can’t bear it because on issue after issue, it feels like ugly, dumb and horrible is smothering us in a tsunami of psychic slurry, so much so that prolonged exposure is totally debilitating.

Ceaselessly peering at the astonishingly heartless, hellish, dystopian void that some humans seem bent on creating for the rest of us, casts a long shadow over even the brightest day. I want to be strong, but it beats you down and I’m no good to no-one if I’m beaten down. So I hide from it as best I can.

I know I’m not alone in this, but I also know that it’s an abdication of duty and responsibility. Of course I should be on top of everything in order to fight for and defend the values I believe in, but it wears you down being exposed to dumb and horrible. Dumb and horrible never tires of being dumb and horrible, because it’s dumb and horrible. But everyone else has got better things to do than spend all of your time righting dumb and horrible. That’s how dumb and horrible sometimes wins, I guess.

But as I say, I know many feel likewise, and I’m convinced this is, in part, one of the reasons (here comes the football bit) that Jurgen Klopp is so popular at the moment.

At a time of grim-faced misery, his smile and his attitude just makes us feel better. It is a reminder of the nicer side of human nature. Just seeing someone laughing and expressing a joy for life is such a wonderful counterbalance to the misery that seems to be the default modern condition. This is probably the reason that he has such universal appeal. It’s sometimes called charm or wit but really, it’s just giving us a sense of warm humanity.

Bobby Robson had that same vibe. And even now, as you read his name, I’m sure it gives you that small warm glow, as you recollect how he’d smile so nicely…and even just writing that has glazed my eyes with a tear. What a gift it is that he gave us. To engender such affection after you’ve passed over is such a beautiful thing, and worth more than any amount of money. It isn’t Bobby’s contribution to football that lives on, it is who he was and how he was that lives on as a kind of emotional Strontium-90.

It will be the same with Jurgen, I’m sure. This is also why so many love Rafa Benitez – a Buddha of good vibes – and why it’s so easy to love Claudio Ranieri. He makes us feel more human, investing us with positive feelings. We need niceness right now. It’s the reason my most popular tweet of the year was simply of lovely, scruffy, hippy Joe Allen smiling and holding a hen. We love a little softness. We crave it. We need it.

Carlo Ancelotti’s quizzical left eyebrow has a real humanity to it that cheers the soul. Luca Vialli, all twinkling, glassy eyes and warm smile, has a warm vibe. David Luiz has a fluffy air of child-like joy about him. Readers suggested others who make them smile and feel good: Real Ronaldo, Javier Hernandez, Ole Solskjaer, Marcelo Bielsa, Martin Jol, Ronaldinho, Jack Charlton, Salomon Rondon, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and the lovely human that is George Friend, to name but a few. All men who put a smile on the face and a tingle in the soul. Men who should be celebrated for that, as much as for their football talent.

These days, the stern, grim, expressionless manager or player seems almost old-fashioned. If you’re not giving out good vibes, the vacuum will quickly be filled by bad vibes.

Dour misery makes football seem less like a sport that raises the spirits and passions and more like corporate accountancy. Tony Valencia appears constructed out of stone; I don’t believe he’s ever, ever smiled in his life, so much so that anybody would think he was from Yorkshire. I suppose there’s something stoic to admire in that, but as we are surrounded on all sides by forces of darkness, it’s really not what we need right now, or not what I need, at least.

Of course, I don’t wish to prescribe how anyone should feel or express themselves. But we really do need our joy-bringers. We need them badly. They are the buoys which keep us afloat on the stormy seas of life. They are who we cling to when the black dog of depression decides it has come to stay for an hour, a day, a week, a year or a life. In these days where wrong seems to have successfully sold itself as right, they offer light in a life that sometimes seems to be only impenetrable darkness.

John Nicholson