Jurgen Klopp claims Sir Alex Ferguson approached him about becoming the new manager of Manchester United in April 2013.
Ferguson had decided to finally call time on his 27-year reign at Old Trafford at the end of the 2013/14 campaign, and the Scot was involved in securing the right man to succeed him. At the time Klopp was established as one of the best young coaches in European football, and he claims he was approached by the United legend but was not prepared to leave Borussia Dortmund.
“We spoke,” Klopp said. “We spoke not a lot but, for me, it was a lot. It was a big honour, the whole talk, to be honest. But I could not leave Dortmund. You are in April and you are in the middle of the planning for next season. I didn’t hear about a real offer [from United] but, if there was, I could not have done it. I first had to finish the job with Dortmund and then think about other things.”
United subsequently turned to Everton boss David Moyes, but he lasted less than 12 months before being sacked as the Reds limped to a seventh-place finish in the Premier League. Louis van Gaal replaced the Scot and returned UEFA Champions League football to the red half of Manchester, but the Dutchman is currently under pressure due to a lacklustre campaign.
As for Klopp, he remained at Dortmund until the end of last season, when he called time on a successful seven years at the club during which he won the Bundesliga title twice and one DFB Pokal, as well as leading them to the Champions League final in 2013. He returned to the game in October last year, when he agreed to an offer from Liverpool to replace the sacked Brendan Rodgers.
On Sunday Klopp will come face to face with van Gaal as United make the short trip to Anfield. When the latter was in charge of Bayern Munich the two met on four occasions, with the spoils shared at two wins for the Allianz Arena outfit and two for Dortmund. This will be the first time they have matched up against each other in England, and the German coach is relishing the opportunity.
“I love derbies,” said the 48-year-old. “It is the salt in the soup. They are the best things in football. Sunday is important for the table because we are close together. Both teams need the points. Of course you can be over-motivated. That’s possible. You don’t need to think too much about motivation in these games, but you need the balance. That’s what football is all about.”
Klopp is right in his assessment that both teams need the three points on Sunday, particularly as Tottenham Hotspur collected maximum points on Saturday with a 4-1 win against Sunderland. United are now five points behind the White Hart Lane side who occupy fourth position, whilst Liverpool will draw level with their opponents if they triumph at Anfield.