‘I think he was a goalkeeper’: Jurgen Klopp jokes about Jose Mourinho after admitting he was unsure of Tottenham boss’ former playing position
- Jurgen Klopp asked journalists to goggle what position Jose Mourinho played
- The Liverpool boss joked about which of the two had been the better player
- Klopp had confused Mourinho with his father, who used to be a goalkeeper
- He will go head-to-head with Mourinho when Liverpool face Spurs this weekend
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp asked journalists to Google Jose Mourinho to find out where he operated as a player, in an unusual and not always flattering preface to their encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
Klopp was joking about which of the two had been the better player when he said he didn’t have a clue about the Portuguese’s position.
‘Don’t blame me if you don’t know,’ the German declared. ‘Don’t say, “Klopp has no clue”. I think he was a goalkeeper. You can play in goal if you can’t walk any more in a charity game. I want to know! Google it! We have time.’
Jurgen Klopp jokingly asked journalists to find out where Jose Mourinho operated as a player
Klopp was confusing Mourinho with his father, Jose Manuel Mourinho Felix, whose career as a goalkeeper with Vitoria Setubal and Belenenses brought him one international cap for Portugal.
Mourinho Jnr was very briefly a central midfielder in Portugal’s second tier, including at a club his father managed, though of such limited talent that his Google entry does not even record his position.
Klopp is always self-deprecating about his own playing days. ‘I had fourth-division feet and a first-division head,’ he once said. But he was a vastly superior player to Mourinho, completing a club record 325 appearances for Mainz in Germany’s lower leagues as a striker and defender.
The aside formed part of a discussion of Mourinho in which Klopp did not exactly garland the new Spurs manager with praise. He avoided a direct response to a question about whether facing Mourinho was still the biggest managerial challenge in football. ‘He is a world-class manager with a specific mindset, I would say,’ Klopp replied.
Klopp described Mourinho as ‘a world-class manager’ ahead of Saturday’s showdown
But the German boss (right) was a far superior player, making 325 appearances for Mainz
The contrast with Klopp’s warmth for Carlo Ancelotti, the new Everton manager, was striking and it felt distinctly like an allusion to Mourinho when the Liverpool manager, reiterating that he considers himself ‘the Normal One’ where football management is concerned, declared that ‘there is nothing special in me, unfortunately’.
He also hinted at some empathy for Mauricio Pochettino, whose departure as Spurs manager in November surprised him. ‘Two or three weeks before that we went to Milan (for The Best awards) and he was with me there,’ Klopp said. ‘It just shows you how football can be.’
The managerial shift means a very different kind of challenge to the one Liverpool had always come to expect at Spurs. ‘You usually go there and… they create and try to dominate the game.’ Klopp said. ‘I’m not sure if someone sees that in this moment.’
The Liverpool boss believes that maintaining a sense of normality has been key to his success
Liverpool, who will be without James Milner and Naby Keita on Saturday, had to think about ‘what he (Mourinho) did against us when he was with Man United,’ Klopp said — referencing a staunch defensive ethos.
The 2015 visit to White Hart Lane was Klopp’s first game as Liverpool manager.
Maintaining a sense of normality and delegating were the only reasons Klopp could offer for why he has achieved so much in a four and a half years during which Mourinho has been sacked twice.
‘It’s funny, but this morning, I woke up, went into the kitchen, made a coffee for my missus, made myself a tea and food for the dog,’ he said. ‘So it is pouring with rain. Raining like crazy. And I stood in the garden with the dog. That is how it is. I don’t know (what I have). I know that I am busy, I am interested, I have sensational people around me and I am really skilled at listening to smart people.’