Friday 18 March 2016

Klopp and Van Gaal have their sides heading in opposite directions

On the evidence of these two Europa League ties, Jurgen Klopp has built a Liverpool side more in his own image and likeness in four months than Louis van Gaal has managed in two years at United.

Klopp's side weren't at their best at Old Trafford but still demonstrated an intensity, work rate and quick counter-attacking style that he regards as the trademark of his teams.

He's only been at Anfield since October - and the squad is one inherited from Brendan Rodgers -  but you can already see a clear Klopp imprint.

In contrast, United are a team on the drift, without personality, plan or direction.

If Van Gaal is putting his own stamp on this side, it is almost impossible to detect. 

This was not a bad performance from United, but it came too late to repair the damage after the dismal display in the first leg at Anfield.

Liverpool thoroughly deserved to progress over the two games and United are no nearer a firm tactical template than they were when Van Gaal arrived.

Liverpool, already, play like a Klopp team, which is an ideal platform for progress but for us, on the other hand, there is no discernible style or direction.

They have a manager in for the long haul accompanied by a feel-good factor - we have a manager that many believe will not be at Old Trafford beyond the end of this season - and the uncertainty is plain to see.

The German's heart-on-his sleeve management style, a whirlwind of activity and emotion in his technical area, is the polar opposite to LVG's rule by clipboard from his seat in the dugout.

Klopp already seems to be carrying his players with him in a manner that has eluded Van Gaal in almost two seasons at United. 

Players such as Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho have brought into Klopp's approach and the German has established an instant connection with Liverpool's fans.

United, in contrast, seem stuck and no one is more stuck than Marouane Fellaini, a symbol of where it all started to go wrong after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The ill-fated David Moyes paid £27.5m for his former Everton midfielder but, unloved by the crowd and struggling to find any semblance of form, it's painful to watch. 

United's targets now are a place in the top four and winning the FA Cup, with a testing replay at West Ham on the horizon.

Van Gaal's tenure is stuttering along at pedestrian pace and any finish outside the top four would surely be fatal for his chances of seeing out the final year of his contract. 

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