Jurgen Klopp says he has always admired former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and suggested the Scot’s stance towards Liverpool may have softened since his retirement.
The German takes his Liverpool side to Old Trafford on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, as they continue their chase for the Premier League title.
Ferguson ended United’s 26-year wait for a top-flight crown before establishing his side as the dominant force in the country, overtaking Liverpool’s record of 18 title wins in the process.
But while Klopp knows things may have been different if they had competed against each other directly in England, he says he admires Ferguson and believes the 77-year-old has a respect for his Liverpool side.
“He is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in world football,” Klopp told reporters. “You can say that with all the things he achieved. Where he started, where he came from and what he did with the club. All that stuff. It’s just incredible.
“As a young manager – a couple of years ago I was a young manager – it’s not allowed to compare yourself or think about what he is doing and then compare to what you’re doing. It was a completely different world. It’s a different job.
“I always admired him. From a distance it’s easy. I’m not sure how it would have been if I was here 20 years at Liverpool and you always have this battle all the time. Then maybe it’s different because he was a very competitive guy saying some things before he played against Liverpool.
“I’m pretty sure when he was in charge he didn’t want us [Liverpool] to be successful. Maybe he doesn’t want that now but the opinion is probably not that strong anymore because he said already a couple of times, I heard, that he likes what we are doing here.”
Klopp labelled Ferguson as a “fantastic person” and recalled meeting him for the first time in Nyon as part of a conference for Champions League coaches while he was Borussia Dortmund boss.