Klopp could be EPL’s new Cloughie

THE TIMING seems suspicious. Just days after Manchester United hammered four more nails into Manuel Pellegrini's coffin at the Etihad, Jurgen Klopp announces he is to leave Borussia Dortmund. Tapped up? Manchester City fans can only wish.

"I've had no contact with any club," protested Klopp in Wednesday's press conference. But the cynics sneered and the bookies still made City odds-on favourites to land the 47-year-old German. And why not?

Well, only the small matter of word allegedly coming out of the Etihad to say they're not interested. Which, if true, would be either (a) an indication they're getting their dream candidate Pep Guardiola sooner than we thought; or (b) they've got looking gift horses in the mouth down to an art form.

Candidates of the quality of Klopp do not become available every season and certainly not when you've just received final confirmation that the incumbent is a busted flush. Convenience is one thing though: having a free run – at least in the Premier League – is quite another.

Right now none of the other top clubs in England are likely to pitch for his services. Arsenal have already ruled themselves out yet a year ago they would have broken down walls to get him – regardless of the outcome of the FA Cup final. So, too, would United but these clubs, as well as Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs, seem happy with the present man in charge.

But above all that – factors that simply make it a lot easier for City - replacing the lugubrious Chilean with the charismatic German is surely a move for which the phrase 'no brainer' was invented. The soon-to-be-deposed champions – the fans and the whole club, not just the dressing room - badly need a boost.

The shockingly limp surrender of the title is bad enough but the sense of disillusionment goes deeper. As the stadium capacity increases to 54,000 next season, there are already fears they won't be able to fill it with the occasionally embarrassing gaps spreading to make it look like the JW at Wigan. 'Empty-had' indeed!

Mutterings among old timers about having their 'old city back' are not uncommon and form part of City fans' strange apathy to the Champions League. Who better to overcome that than a manager who came within an unshaved whisker of winning it at Wembley two years ago?

Even the stunning £200m (RM1.1bn) training campus has left some fans cold as they know it could be many years before it bears fruit – if at all. It needs more than a bridge to link it with the stadium to convince them this is more than mere corporate showboating.

Indeed, there is a crying need at the club for a younger, more charismatic figure in charge, one who plays attacking football, who is not afraid to play the kids, who can become a cult hero and who is a proven winner.

Klopp even took on and beat a mighty domestic rival in Bayern Munich until they came and stole his best players. He ticks all these boxes with a flourish and attaches a sizable appendix too. A perfect fit, surely?

Well, it just may be the appendix that makes City hesitate. Klopp may look like an unkempt geography teacher but he has a certain 'je ne sais quoi'- X-factor – about him. He has a temper, kisses players, gesticulates wildly, can make the odd off-the-wall decision. Remind you of anyone?

Brian Clough comes to mind. As well as dressing down – for the green sweater read the hoodie – Klopp is unconventional, fiercely intelligent, emotional and brave. Above all, like Cloughie, he's his own man and has established legendary status at a provincial club.

As German newspaper Die Welt explained: "Understanding his popularity is easy. He has never changed. He is authentic. When you watch him coaching or talking to people, he is always himself. There is no mask, no pretence. He is the sort of guy you would drink beer with."

It is therefore not difficult to understand the devastation Dortmund fans are feeling today. The Yellow Wall is crying as they know the irreplaceable is leaving.

To achieve this kind of status at a club with no money is an amazing feat indeed and a measure of Klopp's incredible rapport with his players as well as his tactical nous. Not even the dire first half of the season that saw Borussia actually hit the bottom of the Bundesliga could tarnish his reputation.

It had looked as if he would stay for life when he signed until 2018 but no one can blame him for finally wanting out. Not when the job has become an exercise in futility as Borussia become no more than a feeder club – to Bayern, most of all. But the writing was surely on the Yellow Wall when Mats Hummels announced he is likely to join Manchester United along with Ilkay Gundongan, while Marco Reus may also be on the move.

For all his loyalty to the BVB, no one can blame Klop for wanting a chance to build a team and not see the best assets sold and the foundations undermined every season. He is an ideal age to begin a new dynasty elsewhere and City would seem to tick most of the boxes for him.

English, which he already speaks well, is his only language besides his native German and he has expressed doubts about his ability to convey tactics in any other. Real Madrid and Barcelona will be watching with interest but surely Klopp knows that Real is a basket case and Barca are unlikely to sack Luis Enrique if they win a bunch of trophies this season.

Perhaps, Porto's stunning triumph over Bayern could be a factor although the Germans are not likely to remove Guardiola if they fail to win the Champions League. And next season, other clubs could be competing for both men. If City let this opportunity slip, they could live to regret it.