LONDON, January 15 – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said he needs football to be “entertaining” but refused to criticise the approach of Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal.
The two men will go head-to-head when the bitter north-west rivals meet at Anfield on Sunday, with the match portrayed in some quarters as a clash between German manager Klopp’s high-octane game and the Dutchman’s more pragmatic approach.
Van Gaal’s tactics have angered United fans more used to the attacking football played by the Old Trafford club under its two most successful managers — Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson.
And the fact United are currently sixth in the Premier League table — nine points behind leaders Arsenal — has not helped Van Gaal win over supporters.
Klopp, whose team are three points adrift of van Gaal’s men, said Friday: “I am not too close with the news about Manchester United in the last week. The stories (going) around I am not interested in.
“Louis van Gaal is one of the most successful managers in the world. He has a special idea of football and as an opponent you have to respect this.”
However, Klopp added: “I am a football fan and if I watch football I like to be entertained, it is one of the most important things in football.
“You can celebrate big victories together, you have to go through big defeats together — that is what football is.
“Between these two things you have to play football people want to talk about.
“I didn’t like 3-3 too much against Arsenal (on Wednesday) but a lot of people liked it as there was a lot of action and goals and that is what football should be.
“It would not be the same game if people went into the stadium and thought only about tactics and thought ‘This player has to move three yards left or four yards right’.
“Football is not the most complicated game in the world. I like football because of the moments you can enjoy.
“It is a different idea of football but I wouldn’t say we had the better idea.”
Meanwhile Klopp recalled a memorable meeting he had a few years ago with Ferguson — who last month said the former Borussia Dortmund manager’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.
“It was impressive to talk to him and from my side there is a big amount of respect because what he did in his life as a manager is not too easy to do again.”