Klopp, Mourinho under pressure in new season

Jose Mourinho (left) and Jurgen Klopp.

JURGEN Klopp declared that his mission in life was to make Jose Mourinho smile. But as the new Premier League season gets underway, there is a chance that both the Liverpool and Manchester United managers could be frowning by their end of their respective campaigns.

And even – potentially – out of a job.

Klopp spoke of his desire to make Mourinho lighten up ahead of last month’s International Champions Cup (ICC) in Michigan where Liverpool thrashed Man United 4-1 in a largely meaningless friendly.

The Red Devils would brighten their Portuguese boss’ mood a few days later by defeating reigning European champions Real Madrid 2-1 in another ICC game of little importance in Miami.

Mourinho is on shakier ground than Klopp, given that he will start his third season at Old Trafford with the expectation that he should deliver a first league title to the club since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.

However, after a less-than-inspiring transfer window for Man United – despite a flurry of late activity – domestic glory seems unlikely for Mourinho.

Another top-four finish, which looks well within their reach, may not be enough to ensure longevity for the ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid boss.

And given that Mourinho is winning few friends with both his demeanour and style of football, Man United could run out of patience with the 55-year-old who rarely stays longer than three seasons at any club.

Klopp, of course, generates much greater warmth and affection on Merseyside.

Even after Liverpool’s disappointing performance in the UEFA Champions League final, the love for the bespectacled German hasn’t diminished.

And now a promising, yet incomplete, squad has become one with few flaws after the summer signings of Brazilians Alisson (goalkeeper from Roma) and Fabinho (midfielder from Monaco) plus Guinean Naby Keita (midfielder from RB Leipzig) and Swiss maestro Xherdan Shaqiri (winger from Stoke City).

However, this will serve to intensify the pressure on Klopp, who will now need a top-two finish.

That will be enough to prove that all the spending, which Mourinho taunted him about in the United States last month, was worth it.

Given Manchester City’s dominance in 2017-18, Liverpool would accept a runners-up finish, especially if it saw the club contending for much of the season.

However, if the new players failed to bed down quickly, and Liverpool struggled to stay in the top four, then the halo over Klopp could quickly start to fade.

Already, there is a belief in some circles – although not currently on Merseyside – is that Klopp is more of a bridesmaid manager than one who consistently delivers titles.

The 51-year-old has won just one of eight finals during his career. His only success came when former club Borussia Dortmund beat Bayern Munich 5-2 in the 2012 German Cup.

Three of his losing finals have been with Liverpool.

In addition to May’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, he oversaw a penalty-shootout loss to Manchester City in the 2016 English League Cup final and a 3-1 reverse against Sevilla in the 2016 UEFA Europa League final.

However, the World Cup-hangover effect could help Klopp get the early-season edge on some of his fiercest Premier League rivals.

Liverpool had only eight players in World Cup action, compared to 16 for Man City, 14 for Chelsea and 12 for Man United.

And from the Reds’ representatives, the likes of Roberto Firmino (Brazil), Sadio Mane (Senegal) and, crucially, Mo Salah (Egypt) had relatively short campaigns.

Seven of Man City’s representatives, seven from Man United and seven from Chelsea were involved in World Cup semi-finals, or beyond.

Of England’s big clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, with new managers, are likely to struggle to make the top four.

Tottenham Hotspur have the stability of Mauricio Pochettino in charge, plus a core of England stars (who could be jaded after World Cup exertions), but have failed to significantly freshen up their squad.

Expect Everton, under new boss Marco Silva, and with only three players involved in World Cup duty, to make a fast start.

And there’s bound to be an unexpected bolter, perhaps newly promoted Fulham who have recruited well, to take points from the heavyweight sides in the first weeks of the season and sit in a flatteringly high position on the table.

My prediction is for Manchester City to overcome their World Cup hangover to make it back-to-back titles, with Liverpool finishing second, ahead of Manchester United, with Arsenal and Everton vying for fourth spot.

That would mean that Klopp would be smiling more than Mourinho by next May, with the latter departing Old Trafford after another season of only moderate success.

Jason Dasey hosts Weekend Mornings on Singapore’s Money FM 89.3 and is CEO of Cockatoo Media. Twitter: @JasonDasey

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