Former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre calls Jurgen Klopp a 'prophet'

Nashville CEO Ian Ayre likened Jurgen Klopp, the man he hired to coach Liverpool, a prophet in the way he goes about his job and said he knew right away that he was perfect to lead the Anfield club.

Ayre, the 56-year-old who served as Liverpool's chief executive from 2014 to 2017, told ESPN at Major League Soccer's media day in Los Angeles that within 15 minutes of meeting the German boss he was ready to hand him the reins of the club he's supported his whole life.

"I'm a big believer that when you run a football club that first impressions are everything," Ayre said. "And the first time I met Jurgen... I can honestly say within 15 minutes I thought this guy is perfect.

"It was one of the times that you know that your team, your city, your club and, with all the greatest respect to all the managers that came before him, I think Jurgen is almost like this prophet type level of manager and he is absolutely perfect for that club."

Klopp has Liverpool charging toward a first title in the English top flight since 1990, with the team 14 points ahead of defending champions Manchester City in the Premier League table.

And Ayre said that all of the wild celebrations and emotions that Klopp, who led Liverpool to a Champions League winning season in their last campaign, show on the sidelines are not just for effect.

"One of the things I really admire about [Klopp] is he's very natural," Ayre said. "Everything you see from him, going on the field and hugging everybody [after matches] and that whole thing, it's very natural.

"He doesn't do it for effect, he doesn't do it to make himself seem like a nicer person, it's just real and I just connected with him immediately."

Ayre's latest project is overseeing MLS expansion side Nashville SC as the team prepares for its debut season this year and he plans to draw on his experiences laying the foundation of Liverpool's successes during that process.

"[Having patience] is the hardest piece and that's why I think you have to be aligned as a group," he said. "The owners, the coach, the management, the players, everybody has to be aligned with the plan and you have to stick together.

"The hardest people to bring along on that journey is the fans. Everyone wants instant success, but if you keep aligned as people and you can look at all the people in the room and say 'we're on the same path,' then I think you can achieve great things."

Nashville plays its first regular season MLS game at home on Saturday, Feb. 29 against Atlanta United at Nissan Stadium.