Liverpool’s rivals all want what we have: a hero to worship. Jürgen Klopp is that – a manager who represents us perfectly


THERE’S still plenty to be wary of from Manchester United this Sunday.

They arrive not as a Gary Neville embodiment of last year’s misplaced arrogance. “They’re a tough bunch, this lot,” proclaimed Neville as he scoffed at Graeme Souness’ humble admission he fancied Liverpool on their own pitch.

The 7-0 does loads to obliterate any suggestion United were on the ascendancy. Let’s be clear, they have a better season in 2022-23 than Liverpool. Erik Ten Hag seemed to work some things out.

But then, that. Capitulation in all forms. Captain’s begging to be substituted. “The butcher” becoming even more miniscule in frame. A manager of United who will always have his name over the door of 7-0 to Liverpool in a Premier League encounter.

United continue with disfigurement, a tortured vessel in the shadow of its former leader. One that’s had competence and experience in charge since yet has collectively played well for around six months of a decade following Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

Ten Hag makes you shift uncomfortably at his lack of football identity. He is not the disciplinarian he maybe thinks or wants to be. There’s something incredibly awkward about the whole thing.

He looks all but done, to the point where it might make more sense to try and salvage Jadon Sancho’s United career than the manager’s. It’s staggering that they’ve ended up in this position again.

Jose Mourinho described finishing second with United as one of his biggest achievements in football, hinting at a lack of structure at all levels. That statement is gathering more credibility by the day.

The question is, what is it United want? The answer, apart from the increasingly short-sighted yearnings which exist throughout football for state ownership, is to hero worship.

Ferguson was a deity of the game who matches the very biggest and best to grace it. He made the club function at every level. He made things make sense.

Similarly, Jurgen Klopp has been a revelation to Liverpool. The perfect fit for the club. Both men are lifetime coaches. They have the rare ability to act as top-level company CEO’s and town statesmen between managing a football team.

They’re also apt representations of place. If Manchester is a city in your face that likes to piss people off, Ferguson was perfect. Liverpool’s social values and battle-hardened qualities make it reflective of what Klopp and his teams stand for.

This can contrast with clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea. Even at their peak of Arsene Wenger or Mourinho success, there was something expendable about them. It carried, maybe, an air of London transience to it.

It’s unfair to expect managers like Ferguson or Klopp on rotation. The problem United have is that seemingly every other function of the club is broken. The man in charge can never sift through the in-tray because there is too much to fix.

It can become difficult to envisage how any other way works for either Liverpool or United. There are two other clubs in the cities, but they’re both very different.

Pep Guardiola seems to match Manchester City’s energy perfectly. They can be passionate but aloof. Together but seemingly incredibly insular.

Everton have had too much upheaval to hold any sense of identity. But give them half a chance and they’d jump at a fella who did the fist-pumps to the Gwladys Street due to their ever-increasing Stockholm syndrome.

Wider afield, Newcastle are approaching the point where only a Klopp-like figure elevates them to the next level of journey. It’s hard to look across the game and see who that is. Perhaps even harder to admit that Jason Tindall is your club’s most charismatic figure.

Ten Hag arrives at Anfield hanging by a thread. He’s about to become another manager confined to United’s lost years. He should, for the sake of his pride, make United as low block and counter attacking as possible on Sunday.

He might get lucky. It might spark something. These things can happen. It’s worth remembering that United were playing Champions League football to Liverpool’s Europa this week, regardless of the outcome. Many would have swapped European places with them on Monday night.

Whatever transpires on Sunday, Liverpool, for the foreseeable are unequivocally better placed under Klopp. He is everything the club could have wished for when looking up at Ferguson’s behemoth of the 1990s and 2000s.

Hero worship shouldn’t be doled out as easily as it now is. There shouldn’t be banners for Frank Lampard or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer anywhere based on managerial ability. The saviour complex applied feels unsubstantiated and bitty. Ten Hag is proving to be another case in point.

The reason why is simple: they all want what Liverpool have. How lucky we are that Jurgen is a Red.


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