Wednesday 26 June 2019

Jurgen Klopp has subtle dig at Jose Mourinho's style of play ahead of crunch Old Trafford clash

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Jose Mourinho
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Jose Mourinho

Timothy Abraham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho's brand of football simply "doesn't work" if he is unable to bring major honours to Old Trafford.

Klopp's side have received plenty of plaudits this season for their entertaining and attacking style of football and only Manchester City have scored more goals. By contrast Mourinho has been criticised for a more defensive approach, particularly in big matches against the Premier League's top sides.

Ahead of the meeting between English football's two most successful clubs, Klopp was generally politically savvy with his thoughts on the football served up by Mourinho's United. That diplomatic veneer was punctured, though, when the German was asked if there is a responsibility to entertain if a manager has the capacity to buy the best players in the world.

Klopp said: "Playing very defensive and not being successful just doesn't work. We have so many fans all over the world who watch us. They have to get something if they don't get silverware at the end of the season.

"We know the pressure here is to win – win the next game and then the next stage to win a cup. With this way there are no guarantees we will go there because of different things, but we have to convince the people first with our style of football."

Klopp claimed he "couldn't do it any different here" because "nobody would accept it" but is acutely aware his Liverpool side will be seen as nearly-men unless they are themselves able to win trophies.

The Reds reached the finals of League Cup and Europa League final in the 2015-16 season – Klopp's first season in charge – only to suffer defeat to Manchester City and Sevilla. Indeed they have not won silverware since the 2012 League Cup success during Kenny Dalglish's second spell as manager.

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And should Liverpool not win the Champions League this season – a tall order but not impossible – they will have endured their longest trophy drought since the 1950s.

Klopp continued: "They (United) won two titles last year. If we had won the two finals we played in my first season here everything would have settled on another level. It would have helped massively.

"It wouldn't have changed our style of play but it would have been a sign. In this moment it's always 'Liverpool are good but...' We know that. We don't live the 'but', we live the rest. That's our situation. For us it's the only way."

Although Klopp then appeared to contradict himself somewhat when he suggested "if Liverpool won the league then after the season no-one would ask how it happened, nobody".

United fans were initially excited about the appointment of Mourinho, who was successful were Klopp fell at the final hurdle and won both the League Cup and Europa League in his first season in charge.

However, that enthusiasm has been tempered this season due in part to the football played under Mourinho and perhaps exacerbated by the brilliance of bitter rivals City under Pep Guardiola. Klopp believes United should have been in no doubt about the approach of the Portuguese when they appointed him.

"All the clubs in England who signed a foreign manager knew what they would get," he added. "Liverpool needed somebody who started the development with a big thirst for being immediately successful which is quite difficult.

"That didn't happen but everyone can see that the way is positive at least. If you win the title next year then everyone will know it was a good signing. If you want to have the most fluent offensive football and be successful then I think Pep Guardiola is a good choice to be honest. He's doing a fantastic job.

"We are on the way. That gives us the chance to get a result at Old Trafford but no guarantee."

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