The Big Match

Football: Entertaining fans is key, says Klopp

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. PHOTO: REUTERS

Reds boss, though, knows he must get tactics right for United to go home empty-handed

LONDON • When it comes to derbies, Juergen Klopp knows all about the rivalry between Ruhr neighbours Borussia Dortmund and Schalke.

But the former Dortmund manager is relishing his first Liverpool-Manchester United clash and anticipates that it would be a tasty affair.

"I love derbies," said the Liverpool boss ahead of tomorrow's Premier League clash featuring the two most successful clubs in English football - with 38 league titles between them - even if neither are currently in the top four.

United are sixth in the table, three points ahead of the ninth-placed Reds.

"It's the salt in the soup. They are the best matches to perform."

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AN INSTITUTION

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 maybe he is the greatest ever, the John Lennon of football or something.

JUERGEN KLOPP, on the huge respect he has for former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson.

The German, who celebrated 100 days in charge of the Reds yesterday, has no doubts that his players will run and press the visitors high up the pitch.

Yet he knows that will not be the defining factor if his side are to emerge with a win at Anfield.

"You will not win against Man United because you ran 145 miles (233km) or something," he told a press conference yesterday. "You have to make the right decisions."

But he admitted that part of a manager's job is to produce entertainment on the pitch - not something that has been associated with United under their Dutch coach Louis van Gaal this season.

"I am a football fan and as a fan, if I watch football, I want to be entertained," he added. "It's not always possible, sometimes I have to find other reasons to watch football, but it's one of the most important things because you're only here because you're interested in it, you're interested because it's a perfect game in my opinion.

"I said after the Arsenal game I don't like 3-3 too much but when the game is over, everyone likes it, a lot of action in it, a lot of goals - that's what it should be.

"It would not be the same game if people went into the stadium and only thought about tactics, like this player needs to move three yards left, or four yards right."

Meanwhile, he recalled a memorable meeting he had a few years ago with former United manager Alex Ferguson - who last month said the German's arrival at Anfield worried him as it could mean that Liverpool would resume the dominance over United they enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s.

"I had a few really good moments with Sir Alex and it was a big honour to talk to him," said Klopp.

"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 maybe he is the greatest ever, the John Lennon of football or something."

The respect is mutual. But few meetings between these ancient enemies have passed off without a notable outpouring of hatred.

Klopp has already fallen out with Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce, West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis and Chelsea assistant coach Jose Morais.

And United would love nothing more than to make the German hopping mad again tomorrow.

"In recent times, we've done very well against them," United defender Chris Smalling said.

"Obviously this year at Old Trafford (3-1) and last season we've got very good results, so we're very confident of going there and causing them a problem."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'ENTERTAINING FANS IS KEY: KLOPP'. Print Edition | Subscribe