Old Traf­ford re­jected

Why Klopp turned down chance to man­age United

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Ja­son Burt CHIEF FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Jur­gen Klopp turned down the chance to be­come the man­ager of Manch­ester United in 2013 when Sir Alex Fer­gu­son re­tired.

The then Borus­sia Dort­mund coach had been sounded out about the pos­si­bil­ity of be­com­ing Sir Alex’s suc­ces­sor the month be­fore his retirement was an­nounced but stunned the United hi­er­ar­chy by in­form­ing them that he wanted to stay in Ger­many to try to knock Bay­ern Mu­nich off their perch af­ter they had taken back the Bun­desliga ti­tle from him.

United told Klopp that it was a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity with them and that he would not have the re­sources to chal­lenge Bay­ern, who were re­assert­ing their dom­i­nance of the Ger­man game. But Klopp said he was com­mit­ted to Dort­mund and the tim­ing was not right for him.

Bay­ern had an­nounced that Jan­uary that Pep Guardi­ola – who United had also sounded out in­for­mally dur­ing his sab­bat­i­cal – would be tak­ing over the fol­low­ing sea­son and Klopp wanted to chal­lenge him.

Klopp then signed a con­tract ex­ten­sion with Dort­mund tak­ing him up to 2018 but he quit at the end of the 2014-15 sea­son. He took over at Liver­pool that Oc­to­ber fol­low­ing the dis­missal of Bren­dan Rodgers and will, of course, be in the home dug out at

An­field for to­mor­row’s Premier League fix­ture against

United.

The story has resur­faced fol­low­ing an in­ter­view this week in which Eck­hard Krautzun, who briefly man­aged Klopp at the Ger­man club Mainz with Klopp even­tu­ally suc­ceed­ing him in 2001, claimed that the for­mer de­fender’s ul­ti­mate am­bi­tion had been to man­age United. Krautzun claimed the pair had stayed in touch over the years and told the Set Pieces web­site: “When it comes to his favourite club, how­ever, Liver­pool weren’t al­ways num­ber one. It would be his dream to go to Eng­land one day and his favourite club would be [Manch­ester] United. That’s what he said.”

Krautzun also said he was a friend of Sir Alex, hav­ing met him at a coach­ing sem­i­nar in the 1970s, and had talked up Klopp to him. “I said ‘Jur­gen Klopp, if he goes abroad, he goes to Eng­land, his love would be Manch­ester United’.”

How­ever, se­nior sources at United have con­firmed to The Daily Tele­graph that Klopp had his chance four years ago when they

were con­sid­er­ing what to do in the event of Sir Alex’s retirement.

Although David Moyes was quickly ap­pointed af­ter Sir Alex’s an­nounce­ment, with the dec­la­ra­tion that he was “The Cho­sen One”, the Scot was hired only af­ter United had sounded out, with vary­ing de­grees of for­mal­ity, a num­ber of can­di­dates: Klopp, Pep Guardi­ola, Carlo Ancelotti and Mourinho – although it de­pends on who you be­lieve as to whether they re­ally wanted him at that time.

Some sources claim that Mourinho was cor­rect in stat­ing he had al­ready de­cided on a re­turn to Chelsea, while oth­ers sug­gest se­nior fig­ures at United then had their reser­va­tions about him and were hes­i­tant. Louis van Gaal, who took over from Moyes, was also con­sid­ered but he was com­mit­ted to tak­ing Hol­land to the 2014 World Cup, while Ancelotti was head­ing from Paris St-ger­main to Real Madrid as Mourinho’s suc­ces­sor.

But Klopp cer­tainly fig­ured promi­nently in United’s think­ing, hav­ing won back-to-back Bun­desliga ti­tles in 2011 and 2012 and tak­ing Dort­mund to the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal at Wem­b­ley in 2013, where they lost to Bay­ern.

Sir Alex was im­pressed by Klopp’s style and char­ac­ter and felt he had a big enough per­son­al­ity to suc­ceed at United. He also en­dorsed Mourinho and was heav­ily in­volved in the even­tual choice of Moyes.

Dif­fer­ent path: Jur­gen Klopp is now at An­field

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