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Jurgen Klopp transformed Liverpool but the ‘City-Pool’ era belongs to Pep Guardiola



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For this week’s City Xtra column, Amos Murphy takes a look at how the Manchester City vs Liverpool era will be remembered, following Jurgen Klopp’s shock announcement.  

Jurgen Klopp announcing he’s leaving a club mid-season while a Pep Guardiola team continues to prove themselves as the best in the country – it sounds familiar, right?

Following Klopp’s bombshell over the weekend, where the current Liverpool boss revealed the 2023/24 season will be his last in charge of the Merseyside outfit, thoughts immediately went back to the 2014/15 campaign when the German announced he’d be stepping back from his role as Borussia Dortmund manager.

By that point, Pep Guardiola had already helped re-establish Bayern Munich as the dominant force in the Bundesliga, with the Bavarian side having won the previous two league titles – the second of which came under the tutelage of the Catalan coach himself. 

While Guardiola might’ve taken over a Bayern Munich side that were reigning German and European champions, it’s fair to say Klopp had been the top dog in the Bundesliga prior to that, winning back-to-back titles with Borussia Dortmund between 2010 and 2012.

A splendid achievement, but the only thing that stopped Klopp from building a dynasty in Germany with his Borussia Dortmund side was, of course, Guardiola. Again, sounds familiar, right?

The unfortunate truth for Klopp is that his managerial career, be that at Borussia Dortmund, or at Liverpool, has often been overshadowed by Guardiola’s own success. 

That isn’t to take away from the achievements of Klopp himself. Few could’ve predicted the ex-Borussia Dortmund chief would transform Liverpool, who had become something of a sleeping giant, to the dizzying heights of English and European champions. Nor is it to invalidate the mournful feelings of Liverpool supporters right now, who have understandably been shaken by the news that their commanding officer is stepping down. 

But when history looks back on the so-called Manchester City vs Liverpool era, it will be Pep Guardiola’s name being remembered as the greater of the two managers. 

The statistics back that up too. Of the seven seasons since both Guardiola and Klopp have been in the Premier League, five of them were won by the former, with just one by the latter. Five for Pep, one for Klopp.

In Europe, the pair sit at one Champions League title each (with their respective English clubs at least), while Guardiola currently leads the way in both League Cups and FA Cups won. 

That could change this season, with Liverpool currently top of the tree, but it will take much more than a second Premier League title in nine years and a couple more domestic trophies for Klopp to unravel Guardiola’s legacy. 

Even when comparing the pair’s points per game tallies in the Premier League, the differences are stark. Since arriving at Anfield back in 2015, Klopp has amassed an average of 2.12 points per game with Liverpool – a number considerably lower than Guardiola’s 2.34 with Manchester City in pretty much the same amount of time.

That 0.22 points per game difference might seem inconsequential on the surface, but when translated across a 38-game season, it equates to an eight-point variance. A tally much bigger than those that have often been the difference between one team winning the league title and another – often Klopp’s Liverpool – missing out.

The two have been great adversaries, and it’s also worth pointing out that title races between the pair have delivered one of the greatest – if not the greatest – rivalries in Premier League history. 

City’s 2-1 triumph over Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium en route to the 2018/19 title is heralded as the greatest Premier League contest ever by some. Not to mention the numerous times City themselves have come unstuck at a ravenous Anfield either. 

But like it or not, Jurgen Klopp’s time with Liverpool (and to an extent, even Borussia Dortmund) has been punctuated by the genius of Pep Guardiola.