Ronnie Whelan: I have to laugh when people say Klopp is the future and Mourinho is yesterday's man - it's ridiculous
Read Ronnie Whelan every week in The Herald
Published 17/10/2016 | 16:12
This is a very, very big game with a remarkable amount at stake, given the fact that it is so early in the season.
For Jurgen Klopp, there’s a chance to make a massive statement about where Liverpool are going and for Jose Mourinho, a chance to show he is making progress after spending so much.
With men who could both be tagged as the ‘Special One’ – Mourinho self-proclaimed and Klopp by popular demand – there will always be comparisons and there will be pressure.
Mourinho has spent an enormous amount of money without any obvious sign that Manchester United are better now than they were 12 months ago and he is clearly at Old Trafford to do a job.
There is no sign that he wants to found a dynasty, as Klopp appears intent on doing at Anfield.
There has been a debate for the last week about the relative merits of Mourinho’s ‘old school’ approach over Klopp’s allegedly more modern methods.
The implicit suggestion in the discussion is that Mourinho is yesterday’s man and that Klopp is the future.
I have to laugh at that. Even the idea of it is ridiculous. Take a look at Mourinho’s CV.
He’s been on the go since the early part of this century and has won multiple trophies at multiple clubs.
Klopp is not even sitting in the same room in that regard, never mind at the top table.
Mourinho has not suddenly become ‘old school’ or any such thing. He is a winning manager and he’s been doing it for 14 seasons with his philosophy.
Modernity has nothing to do with it. There is good management and bad management.
Tonight’s collision at Anfield is mouth-watering. Klopp’s all-action, front-foot football has been fantastic to watch but can he cope with Mourinho, the best in the business at making a plan for a particular game and getting players to execute it?
He did it at Anfield before when Brendan Rodgers was going for the title and I remember being very annoyed about it. My gripe was that Mourinho himself was critical of teams parking the bus against Chelsea but had no qualms about doing it himself.
However, his ability to think his way through a game and give his players what they need to win it is right up there with the greats.
But there is another aspect of Mourinho which gets him into so much trouble and, for me, cheapens his legacy in the game’s history.
Before the season finishes, maybe even before the night is over, we will see the dark side of Mourinho, the bit Bobby Charlton still finds distasteful.
I simply cannot imagine Klopp going down that road because I don’t think his personality would allow him to. I also think he is deeply respectful of the Anfield tradition.
I think Klopp wanted that as part of the deal and genuinely wants to make Liverpool great again for the club’s sake as much as his own.
That’s why he labelled himself ‘The Normal One’ at his first press conference as Liverpool boss.
But there is only one Special One and it’s not about Glory, Glory Man Utd, it’s Glory, Glory Jose.
There is simply no comparison between Mourinho’s chequebook at the ready approach to taking the job at Old Trafford and Klopp’s all-embracing assimilation of everything Anfield.
Of course, at the end of all of this is a simple question – do you want to be loved as a manager or do you want to win? That’s a no brainer.
Liverpool managers – Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish – have always been loved by the fans but they won a lot of trophies.
I’d like to think that the affection would still be there win, lose or draw, but I’m not so sure. Losing ten games in a row will put a strain on any relationship in football.
This is why United fans were able to tolerate the idea of Mourinho coming to manage their team. He’s a winner with an unbelievable record.
They know better than anyone how big a job there remains still to fix the squad Alex Ferguson and his successors left behind.
I think it is fair to say that Mourinho has never had a rebuilding operation as tough.