Saturday 7 December 2019

'Alex Ferguson is the John Lennon of football' - Liverpool boss Klopp full of praise for Man United legend

Jurgen Klopp and (right) Alex Ferguson
Jurgen Klopp and (right) Alex Ferguson

Harry Clarke

It's a football rivalry littered with hatred but Jurgen Klopp has gone against the grain ahead of Liverpool's clash with Manchester United at Anfield this Sunday.

Klopp likened his first meeting with Manchester United as Liverpool manager as being "a bit like Dortmund v Schalke" but he is well aware the stakes are far higher.

He met with former United boss Alex Ferguson a few years ago - the same man who last month said he was worried by the German's arrival at Anfield because of where he could take the Merseysiders - and it is something Klopp has never forgotten.

"I had a few really good moments with Sir Alex and it was a big honour to talk to him," he added.

"As a manager it is the best thing you can do, to sit there and listen - I needed 10 minutes to understand it all but maybe he is the greatest ever, the John Lennon of football or something.

"It was impressive to talk to him and from my side there is a big amount of respect because what he did in his life as a manager is not too easy to do again."

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Meanwhile, Klopp admits he needs to be entertained by football but accepts his United counterpart Van Gaal has a different idea.

The north-west rivals do battle at Anfield on Sunday and to many it is a clash of styles; the Dutchman's dour tactics against the German's high-energy game.

Although Klopp would not criticise Van Gaal's approach, which has angered United fans, he insists it is not a way he can operate.

"I am not too close with the news about Manchester United in the last week. The stories (going) around I am not interested in," he said.

"Louis van Gaal is one of the most successful managers in the world. He has a special idea of football and as an opponent you have to respect this.

"I am a football fan and if I watch football I like to be entertained, it is one of the most important things in football.

"You can celebrate big victories together, you have to go through big defeats together - that is what football is.

"Between these two things you have to play football people want to talk about.

"I didn't like 3-3 too much against Arsenal (on Wednesday) but a lot of people liked it as there was a lot of action and goals and that is what football should be.

"It would not be the same game if people went into the stadium and thought only about tactics and thought 'This player has to move three yards left or four yards right'.

"Football is not the most complicated game in the world. I like football because of the moments you can enjoy.

"It is a different idea of football but I wouldn't say we had the better idea."

Friday is Klopp's 100th day in charge of Liverpool, taking in 21 matches, and has a 50 per cent win record which is just marginally behind Rafael Benitez, who had played only eight matches when he brought up his century.

It is not a landmark the Liverpool manager is paying too much attention to however.

"That is positive news but it is not the time to think about it too much because after 102 days we have an important game against Manchester United and what we want to do is make the record better," he said.

"We could have done better, we could have done worse, some perfect moments, some average moments.

"Now we are really settled in and we know much more about the club and we have had a good time until now.

"In football the most important thing is results and we are going for it, I think everyone can see.

"Sometimes you have to make a step back so you can do the next step in the right direction.

"We need a little time. We are closer than we were a few weeks ago but it is not only our job. Manchester United are coming from the other direction.

"We can make a big step but maybe not the biggest of the season."

Additional reporting by PA

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