The Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, has said he was so charmed by the sheer cheek of a young Manchester United fan who wrote to ask whether he could start making Liverpool lose games that he sent the 10-year-old a personal reply.
Daragh Curley, from County Donegal, wrote to the 52-year-old German coach this week asking him to engineer a few Liverpool defeats so they would not win the Premier League this season.
“If you win nine more games, then you have the best unbeaten run in English football. Being a United fan that is very sad,” Daragh wrote. “So the next time Liverpool play, please make them lose. You should just let the other team score. I hope I have convinced you to not win the league or any other match ever again.”
Klopp wrote back to Daragh, saying: “Unfortunately, on this occasion I cannot grant your request, not through choice anyway.
“As much as you want Liverpool to lose it is my job to do everything that I can to help Liverpool to win as there are millions of people around the world who want that to happen, so I really do not want to let them down.”
But he went on: “Luckily for you, we have lost games in the past and we will lose games in the future because that is football.
“The problem is when you are 10 years old you think that things will always be as they are now but if there is one thing I can tell you as 52 years old it is that this most definitely isn’t the case.”
At a news conference on Friday, Klopp described the missive as a smart move, adding: “It was just nice … it was cheeky. It was everything together.
“Cheeky, 10-years-old, which I think is a nice age where you should start being cheeky and it was smart as well. It was just that I thought it’s a good idea. Try it. Why not?”
Liverpool head into Monday’s home game against West Ham United 22 points clear of second-placed Manchester City and it now seems inevitable that they will win their first league title in 30 years.
Klopp’s team are yet to lose a league game this season, winning 25 and drawing one so far.
“I have no problem with supporters of other clubs … I like working for Liverpool and I like the rivalry we have but I love it even more if we can keep that on the pitch so apart from that they can be happy and we can be happy,” he said, adding: “And he [Daragh] looked like it in the picture I saw later, so good.”
The boy’s father, Gordon Curley, told the BBC that the family were surprised when a registered letter from the Liverpool manager arrived.
“I would be a Man Utd fan myself, it’s grating that Liverpool are doing so well, but behind it all you have to respect Klopp and what he’s done,” he said. “He came across as a nice guy all along, I suppose this letter really confirms to me that he is a decent, decent guy.
“What I love about the letter is that it’s about sportsmanship and respect too and I think saying that to a 10-year-old is great.”