Before his arrival into English football, many fans compared Jürgen Klopp to Jose Mourinho – the same passion on the touchline, connection with the fans, and a genuine charisma often overlooked in a game over-powered by money and pressure from impatient owners.
But after choosing Liverpool as his maiden English club the similarities ended, there’s certainly no love lost between the two most successful clubs in English, football history. In his first press conference, he labelled himself as ‘the normal one’, and from then on fans were determined to fit the two against one another.
Mourinho the villain
Mourinho enjoys playing the villain, particularly during the latter end of his Chelsea reign it seemed as though the world was against his side, and he had a particularly rocky relationship with the media. Klopp, on the other hand, was the media’s darling as he gave them the headlines they wanted whilst maintaining the jovial, charismatic persona that had the red half of Merseyside falling in love with him.
In recent weeks, roles have somewhat reversed. As Mourinho turned a poor run of form into an impressive unbeaten run – the longest since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson - back came ‘the Happy one’ saying he has “fallen in love” with United fans. As his name rang around Old Trafford in Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final first leg win over Hull City, the invincibility of Mourinho’s first spell at Chelsea came to mind.
Mourinho on the way back
Could this be the resurrection of a manager some thought was far behind the likes of Klopp and Pep Guardiola just months ago?
Klopp, on the other hand, looked thoroughly bewildered after his side’s draw against Sunderland on 2 January and his weary confusion whilst facing the media left some wondering what went wrong against a side many see destined for relegation.
Klopp adored by British media with likeable character
For Klopp, the British media were never an enemy, even during two final losses in his first season in charge he wasn’t criticised as few expected his Liverpool side to make it that far. Mourinho never ends the war with the media, but it’s a relationship that benefits both parties. The media love his controversial outbursts, and he uses this time to deflect away from his players after a poor performance.
On Sunday, whatever the outcome the Old Trafford crowd will witness two of the greatest football managers in the modern era. Instead of comparing or ridiculing perhaps it’s time we appreciated the footballing nous of two true footballing geniuses.