James Lawton: Class of Jürgen Klopp contrasts with Manchester City's failure to show up when it really mattered

A dismal end to a campaign that  had become an  embarrassment for the Premier League champions

Banished from Europe, even its least glamorous corners, Manchester City face days of brutal self-examination.

It is not as if they haven’t come up to standard yet again at the highest level of the club game. They just haven’t come up. They haven’t shown their faces. They have been taught so many lessons that you have to wonder if they are less a work in progress than one in ruins.

With Borussia Dortmund home free as serious contenders in the knockout phase of the Champions League and key players like Robert Lewandowski, at the start, and Mario Götze looking on, most instructive of all was the body language of their highly prized coach Jürgen Klopp.

This could only be heightened by City’s Roberto Mancini wearing, more than ever, the expression of a tragic hero in the dugout and Rafa Benitez facing another ordeal of hostility on the Stamford Bridge touchline tonight. Here, certainly, was a coach perfectly at peace with himself and, even more crucially, his young and brilliant team.

There was no call for brilliance last night, not with the toughest of the groups already under lock and key, but if Dortmund were both under-strength and under-motivated this didn’t prevent moments when Klopp’s run of two German titles and a superb impact on the world’s most important club competition was beautifully expressed.

If Klopp, 45, who is said to be somewhere in the thoughts of Roman Abramovich if Pep Guardiola finally delivers an unequivocal no, had irritation to express, if he would have liked to have seen a little more purpose from his men in the first half, the expression of it was muted. This was especially so when you considered some of the recent public exasperation of both Mancini and Benitez.

Part of Klopp’s secret may indeed be an ability to choose carefully those occasions to criticise and educate — and those to celebrate the work that has been achieved in four remarkable years of inexorable progress.

One of the latter was certainly met with huge exuberance when his majestic 23-year-old Marco Reus – surely the steel of the year at £15m – swept in on the City defence and brought a fine save from Joe Hart. Klopp raised his arms in the cold Ruhr night, warmed to his marrow, you could plainly enough, by the grace and the power of what he had just seen.

He was also exuberant about the the skill and bite from Ivan Perisic and Kevin Grosskreutz which required more superior resilience from the suddenly besieged Joe Hart. When his team came full circle from their initial inertia, and scored the goal which threatened City’s ambivalent ambition to return to the lost reaches of the Europa League, he might have been rejoicing over a masterpiece as he pumped his arms and again looked to the heavens. In fact he was responding to what was merely an excellent strike, a piece of controlled aggression which City had scarcely touched thus far.

Substitute Jakub Blaszczkowski blazed down the right before sending in a lacerating cross that precisely dissected the City cover. Lewandandowski’s starting replacement Julian Schieber will never be presented with a more comfortable strike.

Mancini’s must have had another vision of a crumbling empire, one which in the circumstances might have been even more devastating than the discouragement met in the pitched battles against Dortmund, Ajax and Real Madrid back at the Etihad Stadium. It seemed that Dortmund, who we might have imagined would simply go through the motions, had simply forgotten how to lower their own expectations.

Mancini had to make the usual gestures, in which of course Sergio Arguero will never be rated as an empty one. Inevitably, the Argentine raised the City pulse rate. He was accompanied by Mario Balotelli, who did not look exactly in the mood to bring further distress to the crowd whose noisy welcome no doubt had much to do with his destruction of their national team in the European Championship last summer.

Klopp’s response was to bring on Lewandowski. This gave the coach new reasons to express his joy and contentment on the touchline, the Pole quickly adding to the pressure building around Hart. Balotelli had time only to earn a yellow card. It was a dismal and maybe appropriate end to a campaign which in the end had become embarrassing.

City return England to renew their domestic war with Manchester United weighed down by the unprecedented failure of an English club to win in Champions League group action. They may rescue their Premier League title, they may draw some value from the weight of their individual talent, but it will surely take time before they are equipped to take their place amoung the elite of Europe.

They were not so much beaten last night as confirmed to be officially downgraded.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal