Jurgen Klopp has apparently ‘risked the wrath’ of Liverpool supporters by drawing comparisons between Alex Ferguson and John Lennon, claiming the Scot is football’s greatest – “or something”.
A piece in the Liverpool Echo correctly pointed out that, if Brendan Rodgers or Roy Hodgson had said such a thing, the results would have been nothing short of apocalyptic.
Can you remember the reaction when Roy had the temerity to refer to Ferguson as ‘Sir Alex’, suggesting that Liverpool would be vulnerable if a team like United came in for one of our players? If he had tossed in comparisons with a legendary Scouse icon, he may well have been hung, drawn and quartered on the Anfield pitch. If Brendan had gone anywhere near the subject it would have probably broken the internet.
However, fast forward to the Klopp era and the response from our support is decidedly muted. There has been no twitter storm, no lynchings and not even the slightest whiff of wrath in the air. This just proves that when it comes to one of their own Reds fans can be pretty forgiving, when it suits them.
Undoubtedly some will feel that a manager of this calibre deserves a little more latitude than others. Klopp himself , when referring to his players, has said that it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make in a match, so long as you win. Nobody remembers the gaffes once victory is secured.
This is football. We all reserve the right to be hypocrites when it suits us. I’m no different. I would have definitely used such comments as a stick with which to beat Roy had he made them. Despite desperately wanting Brendan to succeed, had he dared to call Ferguson ‘football’s greatest’ I might have chipped in for that stupid plane myself. I wouldn’t really, but you get my point.
At Liverpool we like managers who are created in our image. When it comes to the old enemy, the man at the top should treat them with same disdain, sometimes bordering on contempt, as we do. Houllier, Rafa and Kenny all refused to call Fergie ‘Sir’. None would offer even grudging respect to the man whose sole aim in life was to knock us off our ‘perch’. We loved them for it.
To outsiders this could be seen as a massive chip on Scouse shoulders. It probably is to be fair. Are we really so bitter and twisted that we are unable to even grudgingly acknowledge the obvious success of a rival? I must admit I can actually taste the sick in my throat as I write this, but it’s true. Ferguson has been a great manager and he has delivered success at United on an astonishingly consistent basis. There I’ve said it. I’ll be back in a minute, after I’ve puked.
The question is, is he the greatest? Is he the John Lennon of football? Well, putting aside the fact that such comparisons are ridiculous, for the sake of debate let’s consider the question.
If stories of flying hair dryers and epic rants are to be believed, then Fergie was certainly as volatile and passionate as the late great John Lennon. He was also totally driven by a desire to be the best. However, while Lennon wanted to be more popular than Jesus, Ferguson was happy to simply eclipse Liverpool.
For me, Ferguson never possessed the charisma of a Shankly or a Clough, nor the humility of a Busby or a Paisley. Of course I would say that though wouldn’t I? I’m sure United fans are more than happy to overlook Ferguson’s character flaws when they consider the trophies he won. Whether he was the greatest or not probably depends on which end of the M62 you are on.
If I’m forced to make daft comparisons with musicians, I’d have to conclude that he has never possessed the charisma of a Lennon, or the humility of a Harrison. Is he a McCartney or a Starr though? No, they don’t fit either.
Actually I’d have to call him the Jagger of football. A strutting, pouting, posing and ultimately successful front man, who simply ‘phoned it in’ during the fag-end of his career.
Bitter, me? Probably.
Should Klopp feel the same though? If it’s okay for us to become mirror images of United fans in the 70’s and 80’s, do we really want our manager to be just as jealous of their success? Or, do we want him to have a clear head as he plots our return to the top? Wouldn’t it be better if he was unburdened by history? I’d rather he was driven by the desire to win, not by envy.
I get the sense that Klopp is the manager we’ve needed for a while. Not just for his skills as a coach. He seems to have a genuine affection for us, but that was never going to been enough to bring back the golden years. What we need is someone who can define a new era. That means sometimes putting us in our place, while mapping out the new route to the top.
For too long we’ve been dining out on past glories. Why wouldn’t we? Our past has been a sumptuous feast. But it’s now the morning after and there’s only crumbs left to eat . It’s time to prepare a new banquet. If you are one of the few who find Klopp comparing Ferguson to Lennon hard to bear, get over it. After all, it’s nothing to get hung about.