Mirror mirror….who is the greatest coach of all?

Published: Monday, 18 April 2022

It was the wicked witch in Snow White that first asked the question - and she never got the answer she was looking for. I got to wondering this weekend what that same mirror would say to Guardiola were he to ask. I don’t think he’d get the answer he - or his cheerleaders - would expect either. I’ve got a feeling the mirror would say ‘right now - Jurgen Klopp’.

The more you think about it the more obvious it becomes. Klopp is at the peak of his powers. His team are 11 games from immortality. He’s built a club back from hopeful - into powerful.

How good were they at Wembley? For 45 mins sensational. For the second half - competent and capable. Only for a couple of minutes at the end did they get anxious. They have the look of a team that believes anything is possible.

‘Anything’ might yet be an incredible quad. I still don’t believe it’s possible, but if City blink they’ll be all over them in the league. Thats the one that’s out of Liverpool’s hands of course.

Liverpool’s CL s/f draw is perfect. If City make it to the final as well I know which of the two teams will be more wary of the other. Liverpool’s ‘power’ is more impressive than City’s ‘passing’. It’s the final we all want. Bring it on.

Klopp oozes class in his interviews. I really don’t know how he does it - one after the other - very often with the most banal line of questioning from reporters.  But he gives the same time and courtesy to all. The same can’t be said of Guardiola - who still looks at inquisitors like they’ve got dog shit on their shoe if they have the temerity to ask a ‘football’ question. You can see his mind working ‘me - talk to you about football? Don’t be silly’.

Klopp is the opposite. You get the impression he’d talk all day if he had to. He reminds me so much of the man who built Liverpool - Shanks. You couldn’t stop Bill talking football. Looking back it’s sad that we guys at Radio City (Liverpool) used to try to avoid driving him to games when he did our co-comms because he’d make our ears bleed. So sad. What a disgrace really.

I’ve said this before - Klopp has made a far bigger impact on Liverpool than Guardiola has on City. Far bigger. Guardiola is still only winning what Mancini and Pellegrini delivered. Klopp has made Liverpool attractive enough to be able to sign the very best in the world. But he doesn’t. He keeps buying bargain gems and turning them into the best. And I thought that was supposed to be Guardiola’s strength? 

Foden is one that Guardiola has managed beautifully and he’s carefully matured him. But where are the others? City have got one of the best academy set ups in the world. They’ve got their pick of the best talent - so where are they? There’s nothing behind Foden.

Surely there’s a proper centre-forward at the club somewhere? There’s got to be. If there isn’t somebody should get fired. Why isn’t he - and City fans will know better than me who it is - banging Guardiola’s door down and demanding a chance?

An U23 c/f has got to be a better option than Grealish? Or Sterling. Or Foden. Or any of them. I repeat - the decision to buy Grealish - made no sense at all. He’s not a ‘City’ player. He slows things down too much. And I’ve seen no improvement in him during the time he’s been working with Guardiola. They needed a centre-forward. They still need a centre-forward. As Andy said Saturday, as we watched Jesus miss that glorious chance second half, ‘Kane would’ve scored that’. Those are the small margins that make all the difference - maybe only once or twice a season - but they make the difference.

Of course Guardiola is a top coach. His record says that - but he must be desperate to win the CL at City. It was the only job he had to do when he was appointed. So it was in Munich. I guarantee he’d take it and put the league down if that was the choice. 

Klopp is the one nurturing talent as all He’s brought one bright young thing after another into his side - Jones, Williams, Kelleher, Elliott - and they reckon there’s at least another six on the cusp.

Right now Klopp is the master of all he surveys. He’s the best. Of course, there’s a few twists and turns left in the season yet - and it might all go horribly wrong for Liverpool - but I’ve got a feeling they’re edging towards something very special.

I don’t share the anger at Burnley’s decision to sack Sean Dyche. I’m delighted for him. He should’ve got out of Turf Moor at least 18 months ago - maybe longer.

He’s been ‘punching’ with that club all the time he’s been there. Let’s not forget that he had them in Europe at one time.

In a straight fight between Burnley and Everton I’d still fancy Burnley, but now I hope not. I don’t like what I hear about what’s happening behind the scenes at Turf Moor. I’d like someone to take a very close look at the takeover and report back. Has it really happened? Dyche has been warning them all season long that they’d struggle without investment. He was right - and Alan Pace doesn’t like it. 

As I write (Monday) there’s still no news of a successor. What about Big Sam? He’d love to send Everton down. He’s rightly still sore after finishing 8th with them - but still getting the bullet. Or Agent Rafa? I guess he would love to send the Toffees down as well.

Dyche will be back - on his terms. His next choice is vital. It’s got to be a good one where he’s got a proper chance. He’s good enough. In fact - if we asked that mirror how good he was it might just give us an answer to surprise us all.