Jurgen Klopp Rules out Manchester United, Antonio Conte Reportedly a Contender

Ben BlackmoreFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2014

Dortmund head coach Juergen Klopp shouts during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between BvB Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05 in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein

When Jurgen Klopp fashions his CV in years to come, he can highlight the fact he turned down the Manchester United job.

He may not have been offered it, as he freely admits, but enough questions have been aimed the Dortmund boss’ way for him to feel the need to clarify his future. Again.

The Daily Mirror’s Neil Rowlands quotes Klopp saying:

I find it a little uncomfortable having to turn somebody down without them even making an enquiry. But it seems like I have got to do it anyway.

There are about 1,000 reasons why I am so happy to be working at this club.

The message is clear from Klopp. He is happy at Dortmund and will not entertain moves to United or Barcelona, the latter of which has been rumoured by the Mirror’s Liam Prenderville among others.

United fans and officials will likely be disappointed. The club prides itself on direct, fast-paced, dynamic football. Unlike David Moyes, such style defines Klopp’s coaching ethos.

Even the favourite for the job, Louis van Gaal, would represent a change to the style fashioned over decades by Sir Alex Ferguson. Van Gaal encourages total football, prioritising possession in a manner more akin to Pep Guardiola than Ferguson or Klopp.

There remain other contenders, though, one of which emerged in Friday’s national newspapers. Juventus boss Antonio Conte is being considered by United, according to the Telegraph’s Matt Law:

Antonio Conte has emerged as a dark horse in the race to be the next Manchester United manager after being sounded out about the job.

But favourites Louis van Gaal and Carlo Ancelotti have been given a boost by claims that former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson favours an appointment that would allow caretaker Ryan Giggs to take full charge in three years.

Law points out that Conte would represent a relatively cheap option, with only a year to run on his current deal with the Serie A giants. The Telegraph report also claims Conte is “learning English.”

His record with Juventus cannot be questioned. Another Serie A success this term will be his third since 2011. If the Italians can overturn a 2-1 deficit against Benfica, they’ll also contest the Europa League final on home soil.

Armando Franca

However, he was listed at odds as high as 33/1 with certain bookmakers via Oddschecker, as of 9.30 a.m. on April 25, with Van Gaal the odds-on favourite.

United’s players have kept quiet since Moyes’ sacking, but Rio Ferdinand did offer a glimpse of the mood in the camp ahead of Saturday’s clash with Norwich:

The Norwich game will be the first under interim boss Ryan Giggs, and if the Welshman manages to win United’s remaining four games, there will be huge calls for him to get the permanent nod.

Until then, United officials will continue to work away behind the scenes, coming up with a Plan A in case Giggs’ inexperience shows.

Whether Klopp represents their top target or not, it seems highly unlikely he will join. The fact Van Gaal has not made the same declaration over his future suggests he is more than keen to take the reins this summer.