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Man City’s 115 charges could change everything for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp

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This week’s Blood Red column previews Sunday’s huge clash between Liverpool and Manchester City.

As arguably the two greatest coaches of the modern era, little hyperbole is needed when Jurgen Klopp meets Pep Guardiola.

But when the build-up to Liverpool’s visit from Manchester City this weekend has been characterised by the sniping and swiping in the name of pre-match points scoring, then you might as well pour the petrol on the bonfire and let it all burn.

In truth, the increasingly bitter nature of the rivalry between the two fanbases has done a lot to drown out the technical and tactical excellence seen in the dugout between these pair of managerial titans in recent years.

But comments from Trent-Alexander Arnold, which emerged earlier this week, fanned the flames before Erling Haaland’s right-to-reply stoked it all up even further.

Alexander-Arnold’s claim that Liverpool successes essentially mean more to their fans than City’s contained more than a kernel of what those of a Reds’ perspective believe to be the truth, while Haaland’s glib line about being able to celebrate last season’s treble was entirely fair enough, for those of a Mancunian persuasion. Both have been playing to the gallery.

This top-of-the-table clash didn’t need hyping any further but the gloves will be off on Sunday afternoon at Anfield, despite the typically respectful pre-match exchanges between Klopp and Guardiola before kick-off.

That’s kind of how it’s been in this fixture in recent years: the two managers’ stature, profile and high-strung brilliance have often been a subplot while everything around them has descended further into the chaos.

The pair have rarely veered into those realms themselves, maintaining a healthy level of deference without ever seeming as though they are old friends reconvening, whenever they square off. It’s been quite the contrast to the backdrop of growing animosity between the fanbases and some unsavoury, frankly disgusting private allegations against the Liverpool boss from the City end in 2022.

That Klopp was even made to respond to allegations of xenophobia in October of that year was nothing short of scandalous having the previous week talked up the spending might of City. “I know myself and you cannot hit me with something which is miles away from my personality,” was the Reds manager’s reply to that at the time.

Twenty-one major honours have been shared between Klopp and Guardiola during their respective tenures and that figure could yet swell further in the coming months as the Reds continue to career after an unlikely quadruple while City fight for scarcely believable second successive treble. These are the standards that have been set by the pair and it might take some time before they are repeated.

Liverpool and City have recorded hauls between 92 and 100 Premier League points since 2018 while snaring a Champions League apiece and there is a legitimate claim that English football has never really had it so good in terms of two elite-level adversaries.

Even those with melancholic, rose-tinted memories of Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger would surely concede that Guardiola and Klopp’s teams have redefined the English game in recent years, even if the scrutiny of Man City’s achievements when framed inside those 115 charges of breaching Financial Fair Play is belatedly becoming more pronounced.

In a way, those charges will also have a say on how Klopp’s legacy is viewed as well as Guardiola’s at the Etihad. The Reds boss is the only manager to have denied the Catalan the Premier League since 2018 and had things panned slightly differently on the final days of 2019 and 2022, Klopp might be walking away from Anfield with three titles already on his resume as he goes all out for a fourth.

Perhaps, in time, Klopp’s success – whatever happens from here on in – will be viewed in an even more flattering light than it is today? Certainly, if he does prevail in this title race, he might even feel that would be his greatest achievement. Few would argue otherwise.

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