There are a few notable differences between Manchester United and Liverpool.
Two league titles and two European Cups separate the clubs on the honours list– depending on which side you speak to, you’ll have one or the other brought up first. As the sides are set to do battle in England’s biggest fixture this Saturday, one other stark contrast exists.
Both sets of supporters stand for completely different things, despite being equally abrasive in Twitter overreactions. It appears, at this moment in time, that the current crop of talent in each side do likewise.
The talent levels are considerably stacked in United’s favour – if almost completely for the fact that their defensive awareness from set pieces doesn’t mirror a spot of exaggerated birdwatching.
That’s an organisational flaw and no matter how many times people point the finger at Klopp’s superb track record in North Rhine-Westphalia, the Emscher has a very different flow to the Mersey.
Quirky press conferences, incidents of comedic value, past glories and a wild cult of personality have completely overshadowed his lack of success at Liverpool.
Yes, they may not have gotten the transfer targets they sought. Yes, they may well have internal issues affecting the squad like Philippe Coutinho understandably wanting to swap the Albert Dock for La Rambla.
The point still remains – the squad have let themselves down through time and time again – not through lack of innovation, but a sincere disregard for the basic premise of structure.
Fingers need to be pointed at the manager and coaching staff for not eradicating this issue. It’s understandable that Alberto Moreno isn’t the most receptive human being on the planet and Trent Alexander-Arnold is too busy watching his marathon of Blue Peter, but the buck stops with Klopp.
If you instil an idea that you’ll not accept second-rate performance levels, the mentality will diffuse throughout a squad. Mourinho discusses how performances are separate from results, even when United win.
Klopp’s sense of relief after two of Liverpool’s three wins (Crystal Palace, Leicester City) says more for the pressure he feels than it does about his standards on the training pitch.
Mourinho’s had the successful start this year which has afforded him the luxury of not needing to be overly stressed, while 50-year-old Klopp is feeling the strain of being a manager in a league where even the trendiest of bosses can get the boot.
Eighteen-year-old Herbie Kane was reportedly in training with the Liverpool first team. Now, that’s almost exclusively due to the fact the international break stole most of his senior talent away, but Klopp’s not averse to trying young talent in big spots if their attitude is right.
This isn’t a club where the academy dictates how successful you are when Bayern Munich inevitably sign your first-team talent. You don’t have the time for that. You won’t be afforded it.
Meanwhile in Manchester, Mourinho’s star-studded cast continue to look just that. A manager’s role is to maximise the potential within a squad.
Jose has done that to this point while Mr. Klopp has failed to provide the platform necessary for his talent to flourish.
Seasons hinge on turning points. Turning points come in the shape of big games. Saturday provides an opportunity for a Sadio Mané-less Liverpool to turn the tide on their opponents and establish a culture and a spine that they so badly lack.
There may be little between them on the honours list, but right now – the clubs are miles apart in their approach on the football pitch. Mourinho can confirm that this weekend.