Jurgen Klopp told Quique Sanchez Flores he “loved” the Spaniard’s Watford side following the Hornets’ 3-0 win over Liverpool in December.
Five days before Christmas the Reds arrived at Vicarage Road in patchy form. They’d drawn against West Bromwich Albion the previous weekend but were expected to win, despite the Hornets going into the match on the back of three successive Premier League wins.
What unfolded over 90 minutes that day was Watford’s best performance of their Premier League season. In fact, it was right up there with the great home performances, especially when you take into the account the calibre and history of the opposition.
They went in front in the third minute through Nathan Ake and didn’t look back. Liverpool couldn’t live with the Hornets’ pace, power and progressive football. Odion Ighalo made mincemeat of Martin Skrtel to ram in the second in the first half before he thrillingly headed home a third, from a Valon Behrami cross, late into the contest.
After such a disappointing defeat, many managers would get their post-match press duties quickly out of the way before boarding the team coach and heading home. But Sanchez Flores says Klopp happily chatted afterwards and was magnanimous in defeat.
“I know the conversation we had after the match at Vicarage Road,” Sanchez Flores said. “He was a little bit worried with his team. The results were not what he was expecting from the first few matches. But he was learning the Premier League and the players. I told him: ‘Don’t worry. You are a very good manager and the moment you know everything, you will improve.”
“When you lose, like they did at Vicarage Road, the opposition coach doesn’t want to spend time speaking with the other coach. But he came to my office, showed respect to me and said he loved our team. He is a polite man and a good coach.”