Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has compared one of the city’s most famous sons, John Lennon, with Sir Alex Ferguson – the club’s nemesis for more than 20 years.
The German’s popularity with fans has grown and grown since his arrival in October as Brendan Rodgers’ replacement but bestowing such praise on possibly the Reds’ fiercest arch-rival, especially with a Beatles reference, may not be welcomed as warmly.
Klopp has had a number of fall-outs with Premier League counterparts already this season, on Wednesday Arsene Wenger was added to a list which includes Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew, but he has nothing but admiration for the former United boss – who once gleefully exclaimed his greatest challenge “was knocking Liverpool right off their perch”.
The pair met face-to-face about three years and it is an experience Klopp will never forget.
“I had a few really good moments with Sir Alex and it was a big honour to talk to him,” he said.
“As a manager it is the best thing you can do, to sit there and listen – I needed 10 minutes to understand it all but then it was okay.
“Maybe he is the greatest ever, the John Lennon of football or something.
“It was impressive to talk to him and from my side there is a big amount of respect because what he did in his life as a manager is not too easy to do again.”
The feeling of respect appears to be mutual as only last month Ferguson spoke of his worry that Klopp would do to United what he had done to Liverpool.
“‘I’m worried about him,” Ferguson admitted. “I’m worried about him because one thing United don’t want is Liverpool to be above us. That’s for sure.
“He’s going to make a difference to that club, no doubt about it. He’s got the personality, the drive, he’s got the knowledge and great presence about him. I think things will look up there, I really do.”
Klopp claims to have not heard or seen those remarks and insists he is only focused on Sunday’s meeting at Anfield between England’s two most-decorated clubs.
“What he said about me? I don’t know. I think it was positive because we had a good time together,” he added.
“It is good that he is concerned but I have to prove it.”