Rivalry, title races & Pep Guardiola’s future - how Man City fans feel about Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool

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We spoke to three Manchester City fans to get a sense of how supporters are feeling about the Liverpool manager’s departure.

The conclusion of every Premier League season feels in itself like an end of era, a line-in-the-sand moment as players, managers and other personnel move on.

This Sunday is a particularly big one as Jurgen Klopp, one of the division’s more effervescent and successful characters, bids farewell to the English top flight. For Liverpool fans, the German’s final game this weekend will be a poignant affair and an occasion to celebrate the achievements of their charismatic manager.

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Manchester City supporters, meanwhile, have bigger fish to fry, as Pep Guardiola's relentless juggernaut gears up for what will hopefully be a record-breaking fourth consecutive title and a sixth in seven years. But once the dust settles on Sunday’s final day, attention will turn to the future, to next season and the potential rivals for top spot.

Arsenal will likely come again, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Aston Villa aren’t expected to pose a serious challenge at the summit. Liverpool? Well, that remains the biggest uncertainty.

For the entirety of the Guardiola era in Manchester, Klopp has provided the greatest and most consistent threat. That City have so often needed 90+ point tallies is largely down to the spirit and talent of the great side assembled by the Liverpool manager, while Anfield has always proved a daunting trip for Guardiola, who has never won there with fans in the ground.

“I’m happy to admit I don’t like Liverpool,” said David Mooney, City supporter and the host of the Blue Moon Podcast. “But I respect the team and the challenge they have posed over the years. That is down to Klopp.

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“To be honest, I’m absolutely delighted he’s going. He’s made a team that have been a real thorn in City’s side. In terms of playing style and what he has got the team to buy into, it’s just the one that causes City the most problems.

“When you’ve got him, doing that, combined with a lot of good players, it actually makes those City v Liverpool games really hard to watch. 

“All of a sudden, City have to work time and time again to not drop a single point. That’s not good for the old ticker and it’s hard to go into each game knowing that you have to win because you have this rival that is behind you that keeps pushing you. I just hope City can get a few points at Anfield now, because it’s been a long time.”

“I think they have pushed each other so much to excel and to bring the best out of each other,” added City fan Emily Brobyn, who is a presenter for BBC Radio Manchester. “At times they’ve gone hand in hand. He’s forced Pep to find another gear that I don’t even know if he knew he had.”

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That constant battle for supremacy has led to some epic encounters between City and Liverpool, and some unforgettable moments. Leroy Sane’s 2019 winner will always been remembered fondly by the Blues, as well as the emphatic 4-1 win at Anfield during Covid, while Liverpool fans will hark back to the Champions League victory of 2018 and an FA Cup semi-final triumph two years ago - in addition to several pulsating draws between the clubs.

Few will argue that Guardiola ultimately won the war, if not every battle. He could lift a sixth league title on Sunday, while Klopp leaves with just one Premier League winner’s medal to his name.

Either way, the enduring rivalry has made City v Liverpool the biggest Premier League fixture for several years. That could change soon, though.

“I reckon that could be Liverpool done for a few years challenging at the top until [Arne] Slot gets his foot in the door,” opined Amos Murphy, a journalist, podcast host and regular TV talking head from outside the Etihad. “It’s a brand-new league for him and he’s never managed outside the Netherlands. It could be a culture shock.

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“I will be surprised if Liverpool are fighting for a title next year. But the size of the club, they’ll never go away. I think they will struggle because a lot of what they have done has been harnessed by Klopp and what he has done in galvanising a club and half a city as well.

“He is adored like the Beatles and those other Liverpool icons. But in terms of City, someone will come along and take their place.”

Guardiola v Klopp: A era-defining rivalry.Guardiola v Klopp: A era-defining rivalry.
Guardiola v Klopp: A era-defining rivalry.

“I look at rivalries and I say my real rival will always, and only, be with Manchester United,” Emily offered. “I look at the rivalry with Liverpool in a very straightforward sense that they are just title rivals and it isn’t that deep. 

“It’s been tinged with a bit of animosity between the fans. It’s been unsavoury and unneeded, and had an edge that it never really used to have.

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“I think if someone comes in at Liverpool and they drop off, it will just become another fixture for us in the calendar. It won’t be this huge grandeur. What made it special was the best managers in the world: Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.”

As the great era draws to a close, Klopp’s departure does lead to one inevitable question: When will Guardiola call it a day?

The City boss has a year remaining on his current deal and said when Klopp’s exit was confirmed that he could even sign an extension. If not, the Premier League will be saying goodbye to another legendary manager in 12 months’ time.

“When he [Klopp] announced he was going I thought it was good news for us as long as Guardiola is around,” said David. “The idea that someone could take what Guardiola has done and apply their style to it, I don’t see how you can improve it. 

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“Since his extension in lockdown I’ve thought ‘this will be the last one’ and then I have to face that fear. His contract is up in a year and the theory is that he does that last year and then leaves. I will be utterly delighted if he signs a new contract as it kicks the can down the road.

“I don’t really know what comes next. Life after Guardiola has to be downhill and I’m not ready to leave the summit yet.”

That sense of anxious acceptance is one shared by Amos. “You see these managers, because they’ve been here so long, as family members,” he claimed. “You think they’ll be here forever but that’s simply not the case. 

“Twenty years ago that was Sir Alex Ferguson ruling the roost in Manchester and you look at how United are struggling now. That could be the case with City and we need to learn lessons from that transition - Liverpool as well - that United have had. 

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“The DNA that was once there will go and you do need to move on and evolve. Success brings its own failures in a sense. It has brought those questions about Guardiola to the forefront. Look at the records that he year on year continuously breaks. That will one day end and it does conjure up those emotions.

“It sums up the mortality of football that you had these two figureheads, Guardiola and Klopp, and then suddenly one of them won’t be there and it feels like that era is done. What a good one it was.”

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