It’s safe to say that West Brom manager Tony Pulis and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp won’t be braiding each other friendship bracelets any time soon. Fans may recall last December in the game against West Brom, when Klopp became visibly frustrated with the Baggies’ long ball game.
Once Divock Origi managed to secure a 96th minute equalizer to give each team a point, Klopp snubbed Pulis’ handshake and led the team in that now-infamous salute in front of the Kop to celebrate the draw.
Though Klopp did apologize to Pulis in the days following the incident, the two men with such opposing football philosophies, but similar stubborn streaks, seem doomed to butt heads.
This time, it was Pulis taking a shot at Klopp, Pep Guardiola, and Antonio Conte, the three foreign managers whose teams currently occupy the top three spots on the Premier League table. When asked about their impact this season, Pulis repeated the familiar criticism that foreign managers are “sexier” than the British ones, and are therefore fawned over by media and fans alike.
“That’s the way it is, they come into the country, they’re sexy, they’re new, they’re bright,” said Pulis.
“That’s fine, brilliant, not a problem for me. I’ll listen to them, they say Klopp trains them three times a day in pre-season, absolutely amazing. I’d never have thought of that.”
Sean Dyche, manager of the Burnley team set to play West Brom tonight in the league, had a similar observation.
“They questioned me for playing a 4-4-2, and then everyone played it last year and it was ‘amazing Claudio Ranieri, amazing, tactical genius’,” said Dyche.
“Jürgen Klopp came in and played sort of a 4-4-2 and let’s run really hard and press, people thought it was incredible... ‘wasn’t Sean Dyche doing that years ago when he got here? Oh well’.
“Antonio Conte came in at Chelsea and he got commended for bringing a hard, fast, new leadership to Chelsea, which involved doing 800metre runs, 400m runs and 200m runs.
“Come to my training and see Sean Dyche doing that and you’d say ‘dinosaur, a young English dinosaur manager, hasn’t got a clue’. So is it perception or is it fact? I have no problem with it. It’s the reality I say.”
Leaving aside the fact that “Young English Dinosaur” is now my new band name, the saltiness is pretty, well, salty. No chance people were impressed by Ranieri for beating all statistical odds and leading Leicester City to a league title, Dyche? Nah, it’s probably just because he’s Italian — and because his perfectly rounded spectacles make him look like a cross between a maths professor and a Bond villain.
Either way, Pulis and Dyche have a chance to prove all the haters wrong when their teams play each other today. Expect a real cracker.