Head-To-Head: Mauricio Pochettino vs Jurgen Kloppby Chloe Beresford / 20 October 2017, 14:14Tweet
It was exactly two years ago when Jurgen Klopp first arrived in the Premier League, replacing Brendan Rodgers who had been fired from Liverpool. The German came with an excellent reputation after his success at Borussia Dortmund, but faced a stern test in his first match in charge. The opponents that day were Tottenham Hotspur, and Coach Mauricio Pochettino was keen to welcome his new counterpart.
“I think it's very good for the Premier League that he comes here,” the Argentine told the press at the time. “He impressed us with his job at Borussia Dortmund and we wish him all the best - after Saturday.” That opening encounter at White Hart Lane finished with a 0-0 draw, and Pochettino may have rued his initial welcome as he has never managed to beat him since.
Moving forward to this weekend, Spurs will host Liverpool once again, only this time at Wembley Stadium. Both sides celebrated excellent results in Europe in midweek - the Londoners with a 1-1 draw away to Real Madrid and the Reds with an emphatic 7-0 win at Maribor - and Pochettino will be hoping to build on the performance in order to break the jinx.
It has taken some time for Tottenham to grow into their temporary home, with the Coach left to rue defeat against Chelsea - and only draws with Swansea and Burnley - at Wembley this term, but his side are unbeaten in the last six Premier League matches and recorded a 1-0 home win over Bournemouth last week.
Indeed, the biggest test for both bosses will be to contain the attacking threat of the opposition, with the pair favouring a pressing approach rather than sitting back. The unstoppable Harry Kane will join team-mates Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in trying to breach the Merseysiders’ backline, while Spurs will have to watch out for Reds trio Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah.
However, any parallels between the managerial approach of the pair of bosses has been repeatedly denied by Pochettino, stressing his own unique principles and style. “We have clear idea of how want to play, we have similar principles but not the same,” he said back in February. “We respect Liverpool a lot, the way they play, but we will need to be clever like them if we are to win.
“If you win you are a genius and if you don’t win you are criticised. You just need to be natural, spontaneous and believe in the way you play. Use your methods. It’s an easy answer: if you work in the way you believe, you can achieve big things.”
Criticism and pressure are also very different for the two bosses. A win for Tottenham on Sunday would see them pull seven points clear of the Reds with a trip to Manchester United to follow next weekend. However defeat would not see Pochettino placed under the same pressure as his adversary in the dugout.
While Spurs see their project - including the building of their new stadium - as a long-term one, Liverpool are still craving success after a 27-year spell without winning the Premier League title. Both bosses have yet to win the league in England, but both Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and Pochettino himself have said that he could stay for the next 10-15 years as the club implement their long-term strategy with their young squad of players.
The pressure to bring about immediate results is greater at Liverpool of course, and Klopp has disappointed in the league of late with only one win recorded in the last five outings.
A 5-0 mauling at Manchester City will still be fresh in the minds of the Reds supporters, those fans hoping that their somewhat fragile defence will not be so easily breached against another tough opponent. Now that Spurs seem to have conquered their Wembley hoodoo, it is time for Mauricio Pochettino to break the next one on the list versus Jurgen Klopp.