Jurgen Klopp’s focus is only on Liverpool’s “very, very important football game” against Manchester United, rather than any personal duel with Ralf Rangnick.
Klopp welcomes Rangnick and United to Anfield on Tuesday with the home side still in pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple.
This is the latest in a series of tricky fixtures, though, and Klopp knows how tough Rangnick might make it for his team.
Klopp and Rangnick have met 13 times before in German football, with the Liverpool manager winning only twice while losing on five occasions.
Yet he is more concerned by what happens on the pitch than in the dugout against United.
“I cannot make it a Klopp-Rangnick or Rangnick-Klopp game, I don’t want to,” Klopp said. “I respect him for everything he did during his career – he did incredible jobs wherever he was.
“He took a difficult one at United, that’s clear. There’s big expectations with these things, big expectations but no time to get there. In our business, it’s like this.
“You can see the changes he made and the parts he improved, but that’s it. When I prepared the United game, I didn’t think about Ralf in that moment. You watch the games and you prepare for this team.
“It’s not about Ralf or me; it’s a very important football game, a very, very important football game. The managers probably will not score the decisive goal.”
Despite this, Rangnick was understandably quizzed on Klopp, too, returning his praise.
“The same happened at other clubs, like when he was at Borussia Dortmund or when he started his coaching career with Mainz,” Rangnick said.
“He developed all those clubs and developed those teams – not just the team, the whole club – to a different level, and this is what management is all about.
“He’s no doubt one of the best, if not the best coach, not only now but in the past couple years.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Liverpool – Mohamed Salah
Tuesday’s game will mark two months since Salah’s last non-penalty goal, but he enjoys playing against United. Having scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, the winger has seven goals in his past five games against United in all competitions, with only Steven Gerrard (nine) ever scoring more goals in this fixture for Liverpool.
Manchester United – Cristiano Ronaldo
Unlike Salah, Ronaldo comes into this game in top form, having netted his 60th career hat-trick – and 50th in club football – against Norwich City on Saturday. He will be keen for a goal against Liverpool, too, after being shut out in the 5-0 home defeat, while the last time Ronaldo scored in a Premier League game and lost was against the Reds in 2009.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Liverpool are looking to complete the league double over Manchester United for the first time since 2013-14, while they last won three in a row against the Red Devils between September 2008 and October 2009.
– Manchester United are winless in their past five away league games against Liverpool (D3 L2), netting just one goal in these matches. They last had a longer run without an away league win against the Reds between September 1970 and December 1979 (D2 L7).
– Liverpool won the reverse fixture against Manchester United 5-0 earlier this season. Only once in a single Premier League campaign have they netted six or more against the Red Devils (6 in 2008-09), while the most they have scored against them in a league season is nine in 1895-96.
– Since their last Premier League defeat against Leicester in December, Liverpool have earned more points than any other side (32 – W10 D2 L0). A win or a draw here will see them finish the day top of the table for the first time since October 1, having been 14 points behind Manchester City as recently as January 15 (albeit with two games in hand).
– Manchester United have lost their past two Premier League away games, as many as they had in their previous 39 on the road (W23 D14). They have only lost three consecutive Premier League away games on three occasions – October 1994, January 1996 and April 2019.