Jurgen Klopp v Pep Guardiola: The Players

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester City has developed into one of the most intriguing in the English game, with both sides battling out for domestic and European honours. One element supersedes the on-field battle between the two clubs, and that is the managers. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, and more poignantly, who is the better manager?

The debate between the two has quickly become one of the most contentious topics in football, as both managers lead their clubs to unparalleled levels of success, despite their very disparate styles.

Jurgen Klopp v Pep Guardiola

The Players at Their Squads

Here, we’ve taken a look at the specifics of each manager and their players, including man management, existing squad members, and transfer dealings.

One is a wonderful tactician who needs to work with the most gifted technical footballers he can muster at his disposal, whilst the other coaxes the very best out of each individual and turns what could conceivably be classed as only very good players, into world-beaters.

Guardiola’s Inherited Squad

When Pep Guardiola arrived following his spell with Bayern Munich, Manchester City were already flexing their Premier League muscles under previous regimes. The one thing they were missing was a proper tilt at the Champions League.

The squad was strong, although the Spaniard has undoubtedly made it stronger. The most controversial change came with his outing of Joe Hart¬†after the legendary goalkeeper was deemed not befitting of Guardiola’s style. As a result, he was quickly out of the door.

Whilst they weren’t the squad they are today, Guardiola inherited a squad worthy of Premier League glory at the very least.

Klopp’s Inherited Squad

The least said about it the better in terms of quality. Whilst a number of players do remain, Klopp inherited a squad ready to be sold. For example, the defence in his first game at Tottenham Hotspur consisted of Nathaniel Clyne, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno.

Slowly and steadily with clever investment and vast improvement of certain individuals, the German has taken Liverpool to levels that seemed impossible under Roy Hodgson just months before his arrival.

Guardiola Transfer Dealings

Arguably the crux of the debate comes down to spending and the frankly incomparable levels since Pep’s arrival in Manchester.

Not content with the billion-pound squad he inherited when he took the job, the Spaniard has spent the last four years using the club’s infinite wealth to add ¬£60 million full-backs to his already blessed team.

Without the need to sell his current crop of players to fund deals Guardiola has spent freely whenever and wherever he sees fit. Whilst he may not have broken a host of transfer records during his time, he has brought in a raft of expensive transfers, often players who go on to be squad members as opposed to the real deal.

This trait of Pep’s hasn’t been confined to City either, spending big at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, despite having by far and away the best squad in the country in place at both clubs. Further proof that despite being a master technician who does improve his players, certainly in an attacking sense, it simply doesn’t work without the best available.

Klopp’s Transfer Dealings

Whilst it would be remiss to suggest the German hasn’t spent money since arriving on Merseyside, because he has, it pails into insignificance by comparison to his high spending rival.

Liverpool are run in an altogether stricter spending model than their closest performing rivals, having to sell before they can buy big has been the way since the arrival of ownership group FSG. The big money sales of Luis Suarez and Phillippe Coutinho have funded much of Klopp’s spending and hasn’t he spent well.

Whilst much of the change in fortunes has come from improvement to longstanding players and has been based on low-cost transfers, some areas were not going to solve themselves. The arrival of Virgil van Dijk, coupled with Alisson Becker and Fabinho have helped transform the Reds from nearly men to champions of everything. This isn’t to say all the signings made under the current manager have been a success.

The jury is still very much out on big money arrival Naby Keita, whilst Dominic Solanke, albeit a free transfer, had a woeful time at Anfield before his departure last year.

Guardiola’s Man Management

Often seen coaching his players on the touchline, giving out one to one advice on what he expects from them. It is widely acknowledged the genius Spaniard improves his players from a technical and tactical sense, and in truth, all you need to do is watch one of his sides play to realise this.

A Guardiola-led side is a well-drilled unit, who will pass their opposition into submission with well-timed runs and incredible ball retention. However, little to nothing is known of his man-management capabilities. His public showings are often business only affairs, saving his emotions for the big moments, often in despair at a VAR decision which has gone against his team.

With so little to go off, it is difficult to make a judgement on Pep’s man-management skills, on the surface at least it seems he is a taskmaster until the end, often pictured disciplining his players about something they did incorrectly following a comprehensive victory. Perhaps best defined as a perfectionist.

Klopp’s Man Management

Dubbed a ‘hug specialist’ by rival supporters, never one to be afraid of showing his emotions. Klopp has built up a great affection with his players, it often spills onto the field, as he does.

Part of what Klopp demands from his team is the ‘blood and guts’ style football, run until you cannot run anymore, and it shows. Perhaps the reason the German can get his squad to buy into such a demanding regime is the relationship he builds with them. It must be a lot easier to keep on running when you’re doing it for someone you like.

It is not just at Liverpool or just with the players Klopp builds his bond, both with the Reds and previously at Borussia Dortmund, the likeable boss buys into everything about the club, allowing the fans to become part of the journey.

Part of Klopp’s method is creating a collective, his teams are often not the best in the competition on paper, however, this current Liverpool squad are certainly proof that a combined team effort is greater than the sum of its parts. Whilst Guardiola is perhaps the better tactician of the two, Klopp is the ultimate man manager, having turned average players into world-beaters.

Guardiola Summary

An undoubted genius, a serial winner who is relentless in his pursuit of silverware, however, he has a self-confessed style, a style which also by his own admission requires an assembled group of the best footballers in the world.

Klopp Summary

One of the great managers of the present day, his ability to get every last inch of ability and application from his players means they reach heights they previously mightn’t have dreamt of. Whilst he may have his critics and even the odd tactical deficiency, there is no doubt Klopp can rank himself amongst the very best.

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