Tomorrow, Jurgen Klopp will get his first taste of one of English football’s most emotional rivalries, as his Liverpool side host Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United.
Facing van Gaal, though, is not a new experience for Klopp. In his time in charge of Borussia Dortmund, the Liverpool boss faced then Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich no less than four times.
Klopp’s two victories over van Gaal in 2010/11 were the first signs of a meteoric rise to managerial stardom, as his young Dortmund team rampaged to a shock title victory in 2011. From there, Klopp has barely looked back.
Van Gaal drew first blood in a rivalry which would prove to define the Bundesliga for several years. His Bayern team thrashed Dortmund 5-1 away from home months after van Gaal took the reins, before piling more misery on Klopp later in the season.
The 5-1 victory was a particular turning point for van Gaal, as Franck Ribery came off the bench to help Bayern destroy Dortmund in the second half. The Frenchman celebrated his goal by running over to his manager, a sign that their public disagreements were to be a thing of the past.
The peace with Ribery didn’t last very long, but it no doubt helped van Gaal in what ended as a triumphant first season at Bayern, his side winning the Double and reaching the Champions League final.
Just months after those triumphs, however, Klopp emerged as the man who would shatter the Dutchman’s Munich bliss. A 2-0 victory at home for Dortmund in October 2010 was one of the first signs that Bayern’s second season would never recover from an appalling start.
A few weeks after the game, Klopp was already being heralded as the anti-van-Gaal. German newspaper Die Zeit wrote that ‘Klopp’s success is proof: the age of the egotistical, authoritarian manager is over’.
It was the first of many attacks on Van Gaal’s egotism that season. The Dutchman’s arrogance would eventually ruin his relationship with the Bayern board. On the pitch, too, his authority began to wane. Klopp himself delivered the final nail in the coffin of Bayern’s title hopes as his team destroyed van Gaal’s at the Allianz Arena in early 2011.
It was Dortmund’s first win in Munich in 18 attempts, and the beginning of the end for Van Gaal. A few weeks later, his team had been knocked out of the Champions League, and he departed in disgrace. Klopp, meanwhile, led his swashbuckling young Dortmund team to the first of their two consecutive Bundesliga titles.
Despite the significance of their rivalry, Klopp and Van Gaal rarely locked horns with each other on the touchline. The Dutchman, after all, was too tied up in his internal battles with the Bayern board.
The board themselves, though, understood the threat Klopp represented, and responded accordingly, attacking him at any opportunity. Shortly after van Gaal’s sacking, Bayern’s then Director of Sport Christian Nerlinger described Klopp’s touchline celebrations as being “on the verge of psychopathic”. Nerlinger, too, was sacked a year a later. — DailyMail