José Mourinho has faced Jürgen Klopp twice in recent years. First, when his Real Madrid side were paired off with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semifinals in 2013; Madrid were embarrassed in Dortmund and, while they did better in the return leg, it wasn’t enough to book a place in the Final. And then last year, when Klopp’s revitalized Liverpool beat his tail-spinning Chelsea at home 3-1. In both cases, his meetings with Klopp prefaced a Mutual Consent announcement in short order.
Which is why, the history and vitriol in this fixture notwithstanding, all eyes will be on Mourinho and Klopp to see how they co-exist on the touchline over 90 minutes. Mourinho is known for his emotional outbursts— and, dare I say, tantrums— when things don’t go his way. As for Klopp, you can say any number of things about him, but restrained is seldom one of them.
But for his part, Klopp seems to think this is all a bit overblown.
“There were never incidents between Jose and myself. Everything has been good until now.”
When pressed on the point, and asked about Mou’s post-match moan last year, Klopp brushed that incident off and insisted the football is all that matters.
“Did he speak to me about it? No, of course not. I am not sure anybody told me about it after the game, and now nearly one year later we talk about it. He is a very, very successful and very experienced colleague. We had a few talks before the games, especially against Real Madrid. It was always difficult, because he always has good teams behind him I would say, and yeah, always a big challenge and that’s how it is this time. I’ve said before it’s not Mourinho against Klopp, that would make the game much easier. This is Liverpool against United, two good sides. We are in the race for three points and that’s the only thing I need.”
Klopp was also asked about a brief episode of drama when he said he could never bring himself to pay upwards of £90 million for one player— referencing Paul Pogba’s return to United over the summer- and Mourinho sniping back. Again, he waved it off as a non-issue.
“I think one time I said something about this and it was immediately misunderstood. But I don’t care about how much money another club can spend. Absolutely not one second of my life. And I’m completely fine with we could spend and what we did and that’s not nothing. Having more money, or all the money in the world is not in my dreams for the manager’s job. I never thought about this. So I’m completely fine with this situation.”
Maybe he’s right, and that there really is no tension between the two. Or, he doesn’t want to create a needless distraction in the run-up to the match tomorrow. Either way, he’s made it clear that he’s not interested in pre-match mind games. Mou can handle that on his own just fine, anyway.