9 Feb 2017

Klopp vs. Van Gaal (Man Utd): First 85 games comparison. Surprising stats show Liverpool's real progress

Louis Van Gaal is roundly maligned by Liverpool fans for his perceived failure at Manchester United, but how do the Dutchman's first 85 games at Old Trafford compare to Jurgen Klopp's first 85 games in charge at Anfield?

In previous articles this week, I've already shown the following:

* Brendan Rodgers had a better record that Jurgen Klopp in his first *and* last 85 games in charge at Liverpool.

* The Reds have regressed in the league since Klopp took over, with Rodgers' 52% win ratio (in his last 85 games) reduced to 48% under the German.

Van Gaal is a good comparison, for several reasons:

* LVG took over when Man Utd were at a low ebb, and had just finished 7th in the league.

* Like Klopp, Van Gaal had won league titles in one of the world's top leagues.

* In common with Klopp, Van Gaal brought with him a very specific footballing philosophy, and proceeded to stubbornly impose it on his team.

* In the interests of fairness, unlike Van Gaal, Klopp took after the 2015-16 season had already started, and missed out on pre-season. In my view, this carries little weight, but Liverpool fans always raise this excuse issue as a mitigating factor.

Key points

* Overall, Van Gaal's win ratio (51%) is superior to Klopp's (48%)

* Klopp's team scored more goals (both in the league, and in all competitions), but Van Gaal achieve better defensive stats, particularly in the league.

* Both managers have the same win ratio in the league (48%), and the same points per game average (1.7)

* Defensively, Van Gaal's Man United time achieved significantly better results (clean sheets, and goals conceded).

In April 2016, Reds legend Jamie Carragher scathed:

"It looks like they’re going backwards. In terms of Louis van Gaal, I don’t see him at the club next year if he doesn’t get top four".

Jamie Redknapp further scathed:

"I don't think reaching the top four and winning the FA Cup would save his [Van Gaal's] job. I'm not sure how you can say he's done a good job. It hasn't been good enough".

Klopp has a worse record in the league than Van Gaal (who got Man United into the Champions League in his first year; Klopp finished 8th), but I don't hear Redknapp and Carra saying that Klopp 'hasn't been good enough', or suggesting the German will be gone 'if he doesn't get top four'.

Ultimately, football is a results game, and irrespective of Liverpool's period of good form, if the results dry up to a concerning degree - as they have this year - then the manager will (rightfully) come under pressure.

One final point: Van Gaal spent £225-£250m (approx) on transfers during his two year tenure, so his results should (in theory) be significantly better than Klopp's. They're not. Van Gaal's overall record (first 85 games) is only marginally better than Klopp's, and his results are not really commensurate with his massive transfer spending.


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