Henrikh Mkhitaryan explains the difference between Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho

by Leo Nieboer

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has explained the difference between Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho, noting that the German placed more emphasis on the psychological aspect of his game.

The Armenian was signed by Klopp at Borussia Dortmund back in 2013 and went on to claim nine goals and ten assists during his first season in the Bundesliga.

He was then brought to Old Trafford by Mourinho last summer after enjoying the best season of his career under Thomas Tuchel.

And Mkhitaryan, speaking to the BBC, noted that the pair differed in their managerial approach.

“When I came first to Dortmund Jurgen Klopp said, ‘Listen, Mkhitaryan, it’s your family name, it’s too long,'” Mkhitaryan said.

“‘So Henrikh, it’s too long. Let’s call you Micki. Are you okay?’ I said, ‘Okay, no problem.’ And since that day they started calling me Micki.

“I’m thankful to him [Klopp] because he picked me from Shakhtar Donetsk when I was in the Ukraine, thanks to him because he worked a lot on me.

“Most of his work was on my personality, on my psychological part because I was really very stressed after a few games and we were playing very bad and I’m thankful to him because he showed me the way, how I have to do what I have to do.

“He was always supporting me, saying that, okay, everyone is making mistakes, everyone is playing bad, but you don’t have to bring your head down, you always have to keep your head up.

“They are both very friendly and very good in their jobs. Like two big managers, but the way of their work is different.”

The 28-year-old has outlined a pretty stark difference between Klopp and Mourinho: the German, on one hand, clearly places emphasis on that personal bond between manager and player. We’ve seen those big post-match hugs – Klopp always tries to cultivate a harmonious, friendly atmosphere, an environment of seamless interaction between personalities. But as Dortmund’s tumultuous 2014/15 season demonstrated, this can sour quite quickly.

Mourinho, on the other hand, prioritises the tactical system being implemented at the time. Players prosper and falter in accordance with how well they adhere to the Portuguese’s approach, to what he is trying to impose at Old Trafford. And this, in itself, generates an environment of healthy competition and closeness between player and manager.

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