When David Moyes took charge of Manchester United, supporters were so desperate to see the unqualified Scot successfully take Sir Alex Ferguson’s place that bizarre comparisons emerged on social media.
Ferguson only won one of his first six games in charge while Moyes won four. Fans urged each other to be patient and supportive of their new manager, reminding people what Ferguson went on to achieve after a rocky start.
These sort of statistics ignored the fairly obvious difference between the team the two managers took charge of. Ferguson inherited a team in the relegation zone while Moyes managed the champions of England.
Once it was accepted that Moyes was nowhere near the standard required to manage United, he was then used as the measuring stick for the two managers that followed.
Louis van Gaal took on a side bereft of confidence, likely to be fairly shell-shocked following the season under Moyes, and lead them to Champions League qualification.
The next season he won the club’s first FA Cup for 12 years. While he was a long way short of being the man to guide United forward in the long-term, he was clearly the more skilled and more successful manager.
Yet his win percentages and goals scored were regularly compared to what Moyes achieved, or rather didn’t, at United. Plenty of column inches were dedicated to tearing Van Gaal down, with journalists keen to quiz the Dutchman on how he felt about his performance at the club in comparison to the former manager.
Van Gaal was sacked and the desperation to drag down United’s incoming manager, Jose Mourinho, was even greater. Mourinho won two trophies and qualified for the Champions League in his first season at the club, yet article after article was written with less favourable comparisons than the two previous managers.
It’s expected that the country’s biggest club will court more attention than the others but surely that can’t be the only reason why Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp has avoided the roasting that United managers have endured?
While points and goals scored were used as a stick to beat United’s managers with, Van Gaal and Mourinho both had silverware to their name.
In contrast, Klopp, who has been in charge for longer at Liverpool, has won nothing and lost two finals.
Van Gaal may have tried to keep the press sweet by offering them a mince pie at Christmas, but his brash demeanour didn’t win him any friends among the journalists.
Mourinho, once described as a breath of fresh air, has become fairly stale as time has gone by. His paranoia or desire to establish a siege mentality has meant his pals in the media who used to hang on his every word have become tired of him. He can only really now rely upon his mouthpiece, Duncan Castles, to give him the benefit of the doubt in tougher times.
Klopp, by contrast, is a popular figure. He’s viewed as eccentric, zany and good entertainment.
Klopp has been known to angrily chase after players on the pitch, and scream in the face of fourth officials, but didn’t receive a fraction of the negative attention from the media or the FA as Mourinho did for kicking a bottle.
It could be argued then that it is the Liverpool manager’s popularity that has largely lead to his poor record at Liverpool to be overlooked.
The Merseyside club finished sixth in the table in Brendan Rodgers’ last season in charge. That summer they strengthened by bringing in the likes of Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne, but Rodgers only made it to the first weekend of October before being sacked and replaced by Klopp.
Yet at the end of the German’s first season in charge, they finished eighth in the table, two positions lower than Rodgers had, winning just 13 of the 30 Premier League games he was there for and losing eight.
After 12 months as the manager, his win rate of 49% matched Roy Evans’ record and was inferior to Kenny Dalglish’s in his second stint at the club.
Klopp’s second season, with six of his purchased players added to the mix, was much better. They finished fourth in the table, qualifying for the Champions League, but were knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round by Wolves and lost to Southampton in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup.
Considering they had no distraction of European football of any sort, you would have expected the improvement in league performance.
Now at the start of his third season, Klopp has a win percentage of 50.5% during his time at the club, which is lower than the 52.9% that Moyes managed at United and 52.4% of Van Gaal.
It’s some way short of Mourinho’s 59.2% too.
Over the past week, they’ve been beaten 5-0 by Manchester City, drew 1-1 at home to Burnley, as well as dropping points in the Champions League, but little has been asked of the manager in the media.
A few rabid Liverpool fans have called up the football phone in shows to vent their frustration but he’s seemingly been given the sort of free pass that Mourinho would never be afforded.
— Soccerlens (@soccerlens) September 16, 2017
Liverpool now find themselves five points behind league leaders United and City, who both have a goal difference of +14, while Klopp’s side are currently on 0.
He hasn’t addressed the alarming issues of the defence and goalkeeper that are painfully obvious to anyone who has watched them.
But Klopp has a great personality, and that, not trophies, is what really matters, right?