How Jurgen Klopp mirrors Alex Ferguson’s years of magical recruitment by bringing out the best in players

But each one was a success story of its time in its own way. Ronaldo joined United as a teenage talent with five career goals. Five years later, he was awarded the Ballon d’Or for a 42-goal season; Such advances, as the career of his contemporary Ricardo Quaresma showed, were not inevitable. Ronaldo was in the right place to fulfill his considerable potential.

Jota, meanwhile, is denied a chance to score a hat-trick in trips to Old Trafford through injury. However, his winning streak is such that he has received a raise and an extended contract.

Jurgen Klopp admitted the former Wolves winger was a better player than he imagined when he signed; To put it another way, however, Jota has improved since he was an inconsistent, sporadically lethal presence for a team that finished seventh.

Last week, Klopp noted that Sadio Mane didn’t always start for Southampton when they played Liverpool. The Senegalese ended his Anfield career by bidding for the Ballon d’Or.

They reflect trends across different generations. Footballers now compete at Anfield Road. They stagnate or go backwards, go forward but then backwards at Old Trafford. It’s a flaw in development and planning when it comes to a debatable point which squad has more talent, with Liverpool scoring 34 more points last season.

The combination of the coaching and culture, the environment and shrewd recruitment mean a multitude of players have reached new heights under Klopp. They did a similar thing under Alex Ferguson. Dwight Yorke came from an Aston Villa side that had just finished seventh and when Ferguson’s assistant Brian Kidd infamously thought they should sign John Hartson instead; He scored 29 goals in his debut year when he was one of Europe’s outstanding players.

Mane and Mohamed Salah have had longer impacts than Yorke but there are similarities. United rarely recruited someone who had already established themselves as the best on the continent; Instead, they elevated her to this bracket.

They often bought brilliantly from the second or third tier clubs on the continent – Monaco’s Patrice Evra, Spartak Moscow’s Nemanja Vidic, PSV Eindhoven’s Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ji-sung Park, Sporting Lisbon’s Ronaldo. Since Ferguson’s retirement, they have made more offers to bigger names like Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and Juventus. Meanwhile, Liverpool have taken on top-flight players from second-rate clubs in Roma and Monaco and Porto.

And now Liverpool have the emblematic achievements: Andy Robertson, relegated with Hull, has played in three Champions League finals four years and is considered one of the best left-backs in world football, as Evra had done a decade earlier. Virgil van Dijk, signed for an inflated fee but like Ferguson’s success stories like Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Rio Ferdinand and Yorke from a club between fifth and tenth in the Premier League, one of his best centre-backs. There is a comparison to Harry Maguire – for Southampton read Leicester, for £75m read £80m – but in profile, not performance.

This inability to improve players is why United have arguably only had one unqualified success in the transfer market since Ferguson retired in Bruno Fernandes, and even he has declined over the last year.

There were short-term triumphs, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and qualified successes, like Ander Herrera, and players whose best times were at least very good, like Anthony Martial, but who couldn’t maintain that high level over several seasons.

But perhaps only Fernandes belongs in the coup category, while the majority of Ferguson’s final teams and most of many Klopp teams – Van Dijk, Robertson, Alisson, Fabinho, Salah, Mane, Jota, Roberto Firmino – have done so.

A worrying trend for United is that the players have deteriorated; for some, their best form came before United joined them. Romelu Lukaku, Angel di Maria, Dan James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Matteo Darmian had deceptively good starts. Others, like Lisandro Martinez now, previously Donny van de Beek and Marouane Fellaini, face the question of recovering from false starts.

If part of the contrast between clubs in recent years is due to United signing the overpaid and overdone, the slow or the unsuitable who would not have been found in a Klopp side, one group of players has the qualities that the German likes.

Marcus Rashford has been in the deepest slump of his career but – apart from his support of United and Mancunian upbringing – has the qualities of a Klopp winger.

Liverpool were likely priced out of a move for Jadon Sancho, but last October Klopp said: “Jadon Sancho is definitely a world-class talent. He has everything you need to really become one of the best players in the world going forward.”

It feels further away now than ever. In a different context, with a structure that worked and a style of play that suited them, Sancho and Rashford would perhaps appear as a more dangerous pair of wingers than Salah and Diaz, especially if the latter duo had declined at Anfield.

But then we rewind a few years and Louis van Gaal described another young attacker United had recruited, Memphis Depay, as “the greatest talent of his age”.

Depay scored seven goals for United. Sancho has five. Perhaps Erik ten Hag will enable the Englishman to fulfill his potential. Perhaps he will remain an emblem of the current United, sometimes showing his skills and sometimes not, while players elsewhere are progressing exponentially and those at Old Trafford are instead looking for even more signings as a solution.

Because if one of United’s biggest problems over the past nine years has been their record in the transfer market, another has been that so few players have gotten better and so many worse at Old Trafford.

And as long as that is the case, they will sink into uneasiness. How Jurgen Klopp mirrors Alex Ferguson’s years of magical recruitment by bringing out the best in players


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

Related Articles

Back to top button