Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp needs to be entertained by football but accepts Manchester United counterpart Louis van Gaal has a different idea.
The bitter rivals do battle at Anfield tomorrow and to many it is a clash of cultures; the Dutchman’s dour and dull tactics against the German’s all-out, high-energy game.
One of Klopp’s most quoted comments likens his footballing style to heavy metal.
With that in mind this weekend’s encounter could well be described as Metallica versus muzak and while 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.”
Klopp has had his fair share of derbies in Germany but despite his suggestion this weekend’s will be a little bit like Dortmund versus Schalke he knows the reality is likely to be much different.
Of the 47 Premier League clashes between the teams there has only ever been one goalless draw — in September 2005 — and there have been 16 red cards over that period of matches.
The Reds boss knows there is a balance to be struck between passion and control and that all-out, attacking, 100mph football does not always prevail.
“Obviously it is important for the table; we are close together and both teams need the points to stay close with the top teams,” he said.
“But it is Manchester United. If we were 20 points in the lead of the whole table it would (still) be important. That’s how I understand derbies. I love derbies. It’s the salt in the soup. They are the best matches to perform in.
“You can be over-motivated, that’s possible, but the balance is always the most important thing.
“In football everything is about timing and the right thing in the right moment.
“If you don’t do the right thing in the right moment then you have to run more. You cannot solve it in a different way, you can only solve mistakes with your legs.
“But you will not win against Manchester United because you run 145 miles. You have to make the right way and you have to defend well because they have brilliant players in the team.”
Klopp also compared one of the city’s most famous sons, John Lennon, with Alex Ferguson — the club’s nemesis for more than 20 years.
The German’s popularity with fans has grown and grown since his arrival in October but bestowing such praise on possibly the Reds’ fiercest arch-rival, especially with a Beatles reference, may not be welcomed as warmly.
“I had a few really good moments with Sir Alex and it was a big honour to talk to him,” he said.
“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 then it was okay. Maybe he is the greatest ever, the John Lennon of football.
“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.”
The feeling of respect appears to be mutual as only last month Ferguson spoke of his worry that Klopp would do to United what he had done to Liverpool.
“’I’m worried about him,” Ferguson admitted.
“I’m worried about him because one thing United don’t want is Liverpool to be above us. That’s for sure.
“He’s going to make a difference to that club, no doubt about it.
“He’s got the personality, the drive, he’s got the knowledge and great presence about him.
“I think things will look up there, I really do.”
Klopp claims to have not heard or seen those remarks.
“What he said about me? I don’t know. I think it was positive because we had a good time together,” he added.
“It is good that he is concerned but I have to prove it.”
Yesterday was Klopp’s 100th day in charge of Liverpool, taking in 21 matches, and he has a 50% win record which is just marginally behind Rafael Benitez, who had overseen 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. In football the most important thing is the results and we are going for it, I think everyone can see that.
“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. Man United are coming from the other direction (declining).
“We can make a big step — but maybe not the biggest of the season.”
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