23/09/2020

They are the fiercest of rivals, but their fortunes couldn’t be any more contrasting right now.
Liverpool seemingly have an unassailable lead at the top of the Premier League, with Jurgen Klopp’s men 14 points clear of nearest challengers Manchester City.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are a million miles away from Liverpool
A first league title in 30 years is surely in sight, and Manchester United are nowhere to be seen.
In fact, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are incredibly 27 points behind the Merseyside giants at the summit.
Klopp continues to go from strength to strength at Anfield, whereas it feels as though Solskjaer continues to be treading on thin ice.
But even the German didn’t have the easiest of beginnings – so how does his Norwegian counterpart compare at a similar point in their tenures?
talkSPORT.com has taken a look at how both managers fared over their first 43 games in charge (including caretaker spells) – the findings are very interesting to say the least.
THE EARLY DAYS
When Klopp was initially appointed in October 2015, he quickly did away with Brendan Rodgers favoured 3-5-2 and installed his own preferred 4-2-3-1.
Klopp tested a variety of formations during his early days, however it was apparent that 4-2-3-1 remained the most prominent up until the end of the 2015/16 season.
It certainly took the Reds a while to get to grips with Klopp’s high-powered approach.
The European giants finished the season in eighth position after winning just 13 of their 30 league matches that Klopp was in charge of.
Jurgen Klopp took charge of Liverpool in October 2015
The German’s prowess in knockout tournaments was also demonstrated when he led the Reds to two finals in both the League Cup and Europa League.
Solskjaer, on the other hand, hit the ground running after being named United caretaker boss in December 2015, breaking a number of records along the way.
The Norwegian collected the most points of any top flight manager in his first 10 games in charge, with the Red Devils also winning eight consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time in their history.
TRANSFERS
The summer of 2016 is when things really began to take shape for Klopp.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Joel Matip, Loris Karius and Sadio Mane all joined the club over the course of the summer.
Mane’s addition solved a key trait the team had previously lacked in attack – speed.
Klopp employed a 4-3-3 to face Arsenal in the first game of the season, and that consequently became his go-to formation, with Mane on the right, Philippe Coutinho on the left, and Roberto Firmino as the team’s new no.9.
The Reds pressed aggressively and effectively throughout the campaign, fully aware that the team defence’s was particularly poor – something Klopp certainly addressed in the years that followed.
Sadio Mane is one of Liverpool’s most important players
In total, Klopp spent close to £70million during the aforementioned periods, while Solskjaer spent more than double that figure (£145m) on Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James last summer.
The need for defensive reinforcements was apparent for Solskjaer – a poor end to the 2018/19 campaign saw the Red Devils ship 13 goals in their last six games.
Tactically, Solskjaer has enjoyed success in big games over the likes of Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain by employing a 3-5-2 formation.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has enjoyed many highs and lows as United boss
Under the Norwegian the success they have enjoyed has come from playing on the counter, from conceding territory and possession – thus allowing their forwards to break at speed behind the opposition defence.
And while it’s worked against these big clubs, the Premier League is a different kettle of fish and in many occasions this season the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and James have been left frustrated, with no space to run into, against a deep-lying defence.
Solskjaer’s tenure will not be judged by the odd big six result, a select few matches when United are able to play like the underdogs with pure counter-attacking football.
HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
Interestingly, there’s little to choose between the pair after their first 43 top-flight games.
While Klopp had to wait five games to register his first win as Liverpool boss at the start of his tenure, Solskjaer set off like a steam train winning his first six league games in charge.
He was eventually handed the reins on a permanent basis last March after a superb three-month spell in interim charge.
When Solskjaer took charge, United were sixth in the Premier League and 11 points off the top four.
But they registered just one defeat in 13 league games thereafter – at Arsenal – who were just two points in front of them in the final Champions League qualifying spot.
In total, Klopp obtained four more points than his United counterpart during this period, but unfortunately things have fared somewhat differently for the Norwegian since then.
For the full table of results, see below…
Solskjaer at Man Utd P43, W21, D11, L11, F72, A50
Klopp at Liverpool P43, W22, D12, L9, F87, A54
THE FUTURE
There remains several question marks over whether Solskjaer is the right man to lead United in the long term.
Impressive back-to-back victories against Tottenham and arch nemesis Manchester City gave fans hope heading into this month’s transfer window that the club were once more heading in the right direction, however results have dropped since then.
On the other hand, Liverpool fans are universally behind Klopp – who recently signed a new deal to keep him at Anfield until the summer of 2024.
Klopp has done a remarkable job at Liverpool and looks poised to lead them to a first title in 30 years
Barring an incredible collapse, the German will be the first Liverpool boss to lead the Reds to a title in 30 years. He will be forever etched in Anfield folklore for that feat.
United favourite Solskjaer has a lot of work to do if he is still to be held in the same managerial class as Klopp.
Whether he can do that at Manchester United remains to be seen.