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Klopp vs Mourinho – who will come out on top this time?

Saturday afternoon will see England’s biggest and best derby played out as Manchester United travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool.

Both sides are missing key players for the fixture, with Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini injured for United, and Sadio Mane ruled out for Liverpool.

This is the fixture where players know they can make a name for themselves and cement their status among the fan base.

Romelu Lukaku has scored an incredible 16 goals in 13 appearances for club and country this season and will be looking to raise his profile even further with a goal against Liverpool.

Having joined from Everton, the Belgian shouldn’t expect a warm welcome from the home crowd. Liverpool supporters have been keen to argue that the striker isn’t a big game player but it’s hard to fathom where this reputation has come from.

In his last two seasons for Everton he scored a total of seven goals against City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, which isn’t too shabby when you consider they’ve finished seventh and 11th in the table.

With better service at United, fans haven’t had anything to complain about either, with him scoring against Real Madrid in the Super Cup final, as well as netting on his Champions League debut.

Yet as much as the players will want to make a name for themselves, the managers will also be keen to get one over on the other.

Both fixtures last season resulted in a draw. At Anfield, United recorded their lowest ever ball possession since Opta record, with a measly 35%. They fared better at Old Trafford, with Simon Mignolet’s performance earning him Man of the Match, yet still needed Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 84th minute goal to salvage a point.

When looking at the times these managers have played against each other in the past, Klopp has the upper hand though. In five games, Klopp has won three, Mourinho one, and the other finished in a draw.

“They had more of the ball, but that was not abad thing for us,” Klopp said following Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 win over Mourinho’s Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage in 2012. They drew 2-2 in the return leg at the Bernabeu, with Dortmund going on to top the group.

They faced each other again a few months later in the Champions League semi-final when, again, Klopp got the better of Mourinho. After a 4-1 win in the first leg for Dortmund, Real Madrid were knocked out on goal difference following their 2-0 win in the second leg.

Klopp had done enough in the lead up to these games to get under Mourinho’s skin though.

“I have said a little bit about Dortmund and that’s enough,” Mourinho said. “Since the day of the draw, Klopp talks every day.”

During Mourinho’s most recent stint at Chelsea he suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge against Klopp’s Liverpool, just a couple of months before they sacked him.

Mourinho will be confident of a better result this time around though. With goal difference alone keeping United off the top of the table, he probably couldn’t face Liverpool at a better time.

In their last seven games in all competitions, they have won just one, lost two and drawn four.

Klopp, in his third season at Liverpool, has yet to win any silverware, but has lost two finals, in the EFL Cup and Europa League. Mourinho played in the finals of those same competitions in his first season at United and won both of them.

To add insult to injury for the scousers, it was revealed this week that Klopp had dreamed of managing United one day when he was still in Germany.

The former Mainz manager, Eckhard Krautzun, who was in charge when Klopp played there, has claimed that United were his preferred destination.

“When it came to his favourite club, Liverpool weren’t always number one,” he revealed. “It would be his dream to go to England one day and his favourite club would be United. That’s what he said.”

Klopp left Borussia Dortmund in 2015 and Krautzun has insisted that United were the team Klopp hoped to join.

“If he goes abroad, if he goes to England, his love would be Manchester United,” he said.

Yet it was Liverpool who offered him a job and he was an incredibly popular figure upon arrival. But if you are to judge the opinions of supporters from football phone-ins and social media, which isn’t necessarily the wisest thing to do, Klopp isn’t as well liked as he used to be. Their desperation to see the glory days return has seen them hail the likes of Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers as the messiah in the past, only for both to come close to winning the title, and fail.

If Liverpool don’t win the Premier League this season, as you would imagine they won’t, their wait for the title will be 28 years and counting.

The chances of Mourinho winning the league this season are much better, even if Manchester City are obvious favourites, yet the winner of Saturday’s fixture will have a greater belief that they could go on to be champions.

 

By Scott Paterson

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