Klopp missed out on the job that went to ‘the other Jurgen’… now the Liverpool manager is desperate to knock Bayern Munich off their perch
- For seven years, Klopp went head to head with Bayern as Dortmund manager
- The Champions League final defeat against Bayern still gnaws away at him
- They made contact with Klopp in 2008 regarding their managerial vacancy
- The Bayern hierachy opted to appoint ‘the other Jurgen’ Klinsmann instead
Jurgen Klopp pulled one of those faces and did his best to move on. He was asked about his personal history with Bayern Munich and what spice it added to an enthralling Champions League tie.
‘I don’t feel like this,’ Liverpool’s manager insisted. ‘I don’t see it as a personal thing for me. It is two big clubs facing each other and I am really happy to be part of this game. It’s a big one. It is a game you want to see.’
That much is true but the former Borussia Dortmund manager was perhaps not telling the whole story. Bayern, who are not so much a club but a footballing juggernaut, have been so closely entwined in the German’s life for the past decade.
Jurgen Klopp went head to head with Bayern Munich during seven years as Dortmund boss
For seven years, Klopp went head to head with Bayern. He twice knocked them off their perch to win the Bundesliga, and there was that Champions League final defeat at Wembley in 2013 that still gnaws away at him. Bayern also had a habit of buying Dortmund’s players.
Klopp caused Bayern problems like no other manager, but this would never have come as a surprise to the powerbrokers in Bavaria. They made contact with him when he was Mainz manager in 2008 and you sense they will try again one day.
‘To beat them was the biggest challenge you could face in German football, always,’ said Klopp, who has concerns about Roberto Firmino’s fitness after he missed training on Monday with a virus. If the Brazil striker misses out, Daniel Sturridge is set to start up front.
Bayern made contact with Klopp, then Mainz boss, in 2008 regarding the managerial position
‘Sometimes we did it and sometimes we didn’t. It is pretty much all true (that Munich wanted me) apart from the claim I was angry afterwards when they called me to say they had decided on the other Jurgen (Klinsmann). I wasn’t angry. I never expected they would go for me.
‘I was a second division manager in Germany — a Championship manager if you want — and who would expect that Bayern calls you? It was more of a shock in the first moment.
‘Then a couple of days later they called to say they’d gone with the other Jurgen. All the rest is true.
‘It was Uli Hoeness on the phone. I would never have told the story. It is not a story where you go around telling people, “They asked me if I would go there!” But Hoeness spoke about it and I can confirm that’s how it was.’
The Bayern hierachy opted to appoint ‘the other Jurgen’ Klinsmann instead
The sight of Klopp will cause anxiety for Bayern, who have lost some of the sheen Pep Guardiola applied to them in the three years after they completed the treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League in 2013 under Jupp Heynckes.
Liverpool ripped them to shreds in the Audi Cup in July 2017, the friendly tournament that Bayern take such pride in hosting, and there is a feeling they could now do it for real, with the promise of goals. As Niko Kovac, Bayern’s manager, noted: ‘We probably won’t see a 0-0.’
Klopp would not take the bait when asked if he felt Bayern are a fading force. They might be an old team but anyone who doubts the quality of striker Robert Lewandowski, metronomic midfielder Thiago Alcantara or goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is being naive.
Jordan Henderson must ‘put it right’ after losing the Champions League final in 2018
‘You had Guardiola, one of the best managers in the world and they played fantastic football, won the league three times. Then with Carlo Ancelotti, who did a brilliant job at Naples, it didn’t work out. They brought Heynckes back and he was successful again.
‘Now they have to change it completely, a new manager and a few very experienced players are injured, but I’ve watched seven games now and I can’t see any obvious problem. The way I see it, they are even more dangerous. They will try everything to win this competition and we have to try to avoid that.’
Both clubs have won the European Cup five times, but it rankles Liverpool’s players that they didn’t record a sixth last May. Captain Jordan Henderson feels there is unfinished business.
‘When you lose in a final, it stays with you,’ he said. ‘You use that as motivation to try to get back there and put it right, and if we get back, hopefully we will go one step further.’