'I Met Ferguson, Football's Lennon, But I Could Not Leave Dortmund'

Published: 16th January 2016 09:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th January 2016 09:24 AM   |  A+A-

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has revealed how he resisted overtures to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United because of his loyalty to Borussia Dortmund. The Liverpool manager met Ferguson prior to the former United coach's retirement in 2013, and while there was never an offer to move to Old Trafford it is clear the meeting was part of a sounding-out process.

Klopp, who described Ferguson as "the John Lennon of football" and possibly the greatest manager ever, said the timing was wrong when he met him in the weeks prior to David Moyes's appointment.

"We spoke. We spoke not a lot but, for me, it was a lot. It was a big honour, the whole talk," said Klopp. "I did not hear about a real offer but, if there was, I could not have done it. I first had to finish the job with Dortmund and then think about other things. Maybe that is not smart but that is my way.

"I could not leave Dortmund. That is it. It wasn't like it was said 'Come in March or May'. When you are in April you are in the middle of the planning for next season. You have this player and this player and this player who is coming [to sign] but then you are not there anymore. That doesn't work. Not in my life."

United sounded out several top-class coaches prior to Ferguson's exit, with Pep Guardiola another who has previously revealed meeting the ex-manager in the months prior to his retirement.

The subsequent recruitment of Moyes went badly wrong, and Ferguson's recent comments on his concerns about arch rivals Liverpool luring Klopp underline the depth of his respect for the German's work.

Klopp made it clear the feelings are mutual as he prepared for his first meeting with Manchester United. Klopp said: "First of all, I had a few really good moments with Sir Alex. In comparison to him I'm a young manager. For a manager it's nearly the best thing you can do, to sit there and listen to him. OK, I needed 10 minutes to understand. Maybe he is the greatest ever - the John Lennon of football.

"It is really impressive to talk to him. From my side there is a big amount of respect. What he did in his life as a manager is not easy for someone else to do it. What he said about me? I don't know. I think it was positive because we had a good time together. It is good that he is concerned. I have to prove it. We need a little time."

The last time Klopp faced current United manager Louis van Gaal, the Dutchman was under siege at Bayern Munich with club legends lambasting the dull football. Van Gaal was sacked soon after losing to Klopp's Dortmund at home for the first time in 20 years in 2011.

"Lucas Barrios, Nuri Sahin and Mats Hummels scored. We were in a good moment with Dortmund and we scored brilliant goals that day but it was a long time ago," said Klopp. "We scored really good goals, including one from a set play. I would like a goal from a set play here sometime."

A contrast is being drawn between the styles of Klopp and Van Gaal. Liverpool's manager keenly accepts being seen as prioritising an engaging brand of football.

"First of all I am a football fan," he said. "If I watch I want to be entertained. It is why you are interested in it. It would not be the same game if people only go to the game and only think about tactics. I like football because of the moments you can enjoy. Not just a perfect goal but a perfect challenge - the atmosphere and everything."

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