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How does Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp inspire Gators head coach Dan Mullen?

Most didn’t give Liverpool FC any chance going into the second leg of its UEFA Champions League semifinal match against FC Barcelona.

And why would they when the opposition had Lionel Messi, arguably the game’s best ever player.

But Liverpool overturned a three-goal deficit to win the second leg, and the tie, 4-0 en route to last season’s Champions League title.

There was one Liverpool supporter across the pond who has learned a bit from watching the Reds under manager Jurgen Klopp.

Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen.

“Boy, one thing is that [Klopp] has his system,” Mullen told LiverpoolFC.com. “I think in all sports it’s critical that, as a coach, you have a system that you like, but you’re not afraid to tweak your system around the players that you have. He’s passionate on the sidelines, he’s fired up, he’s in the games — I love that. I think the players feed off that.

“I think players are going to take on the personality of the coach and the coach can take on the personality of the players. When they match, you have a great match. The biggest thing that you have to have, to have a successful organization, is alignment. You can’t have one person going in one direction and another going in another.”

The Gators were a four-win team in 2017 before Mullen returned to Gainesville, the place where he was an offensive coordinator when Tim Tebow became a Gators legend, in 2018.

UF won 10 games last season and finished as a top-10 team in the country, a place the Gators (4-0) find themselves in 2019.

“If you want inspiration of Liverpool on that, you look at the transfer period and how little they did,” Mullen told the website. “A couple of departures, but not really massive changes on the roster. That just shows you the program, the team has been built to win consistently. From top to bottom, it’s an organization that is built to not just win one championship or freak out that we finished one point behind City.”

Mullen’s affinity for Liverpool goes back to his mother, who is from North Wales, and his visits to the village of Llay, which is south of Liverpool, according to LiverpoolFC.com.

“My wife is always like, ‘You have one day to sleep in, why are you up at 6:30 in the morning watching a soccer match?’ Mullen told the site.

Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.
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