They remain English football's most successful clubs, but Jurgen Klopp says the days when Liverpool and Manchester United enjoy total supremacy will never return.
Liverpool were the superpower of the late 70s and throughout the 80s, usurped by United in the 90s through the turn of the millennium.
The Merseyside club has re-emerged, craving its first Premier League title for 30 years, but the landscape has changed to such an extent, Klopp does not believe it possible for any side to monopolise like Bob Paisley or Sir Alex Ferguson’s.
“To be honest I don’t think it is possible. I don’t think the dominance like they [United] had is possible again,” said Klopp.
“Football changed completely, the power of different clubs changed completely. We made a couple of good decisions - that is why we got better. Other teams have the same chance. Players are coming up, make decisions. If a midfield player comes on the market and one club doesn’t need him, the other club needs him and can get him. Next year he might not be on the market. It is like up and down.”
“How can I build the squad? So I don't think a dominance like Liverpool had before and United had after is possible. It is more likely that different clubs will compete for different things because of the financial power of a lot of teams, Leicester has proper power, so they are coming up on top of the typical top six I would say. That makes it even more difficult.
“In that time [when United dominated] I wouldn’t say United won a lot of games four or five nil but they were predicted wins. It was clear if you went to certain places you would win. We have had a lot of games where we have won 2-1, 1-0 and had to dig in properly.
“But being dominant is not important really. What is important is that you can fight every year for it. That is the only thing I need to know. That is enough.”
While the rivalry between the north west giants is as intense as ever, there is a gulf in the quality of the sides, regardless of the outcome this weekend.
Yet off the pitch, there is only mutual respect between Klopp and Ferguson, the United manager often lavishing praise on the Liverpool coach. Earlier this season, Klopp kept a promise to dine with Ferguson after a date with the pair was sold at a charity auction for £100,000. It was arranged to support Ferguson’s charity in aid of the NHS.
“I had my Liverpool smartphone on the table all night and nobody left the table. It was just nice, really nice, time flew. It was all good,” said Klopp of the evening in Worsley, near Manchester.
“Ryan Giggs was there as well, and Bryan Robson. I had no problem and they were okay as well. It didn't feel like [being surrounded by the enemy], but I know about that. If Mr Neville and Mr Carragher can work together on TV, who would have thought that?
“I have a really good relationship with Sir Alex and when I met him first it was, ‘Alex Ferguson’ with another word in the middle. It was unbelievable. I was a very young manager at Dortmund who had never met him before and from the first second we had a super conversation. I needed 20 minutes to get used to his Scottish accent, but then I was in. From that moment on we were in contact. Now he is not managing Man United anymore and so when I was there, he was not the former manager of Man United. He was just a very very nice guy.”
“I had a similar situation in Dortmund in 2011 where we were surprisingly good and people ask us five million times, “will you be champions?”” said Klopp.
“We all thought, 'We have to win this game, we have to win the next game'. The questions were similar and all the stories were sensationally positive. I could nearly walk on water. That is how life is. I am not that negative that I believe they are always writing the positive stuff until they can knock us down but I know it happens, so really I am not interested in what people are saying. It does not affect me at all and so far it does not affect the boys. Whatever comparison you make I will only think about long after my career.”
Liverpool welcome back Fabinho and Joel Matip to their squad this weekend.