When Thomas Tuchel was asked about compatriot Jurgen Klopp at his Chelsea unveiling in January, he could hardly have been more gracious.
“One of the very, very best coaches,” Tuchel said, “one of the most fascinating personalities out there as a coach… People love him, fans love him, his teams love him…”
The most spiteful it got was when the Blues’ new boss said, “Let’s try to make things a bit more complicated for him.”
Which was hardly the sort of war cry any of us had hoped for from the man who followed Klopp into Borussia Dortmund and who, like the Liverpool boss, cut his teeth in management at Mainz.
It certainly didn’t suggest there’d be fireworks down the line, not of the sort we came to expect between 2004 and 2007 when Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez were in charge of Tuchel and Klopp’s respective clubs.
Those two delivered some proper dugout discord during a period in which their sides met 15 times and, often, in massive fixtures.
The enmity ran so deep back then that it continued to fizz away, with the occasional pop, long after they’d departed Stamford Bridge and Anfield.
It came to a head in 2015 when Benitez’s wife, Montse, claimed her husband always tidied up Mourinho’s messes and the Portuguese responded in unkind by telling Mrs B to focus more on her husband’s diet.
Crass? Yes. Puerile? Yes.
But box office nonetheless.
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There has been no place for such a rivalry in English football — in any football — this past year.
A year in which Arrigo Sacchi’s famous old quote, about the game being the most important of the least important things in life, has never been truer.
But with light, at least for now, at the end of the tunnel, a proper managerial feud wouldn’t half be welcome to help usher in a return to normality.
And with Mourinho versus Pep Guardiola seeming to have run its course, Klopp versus Tuchel has the characters and the sub-plots to explode.
Tuchel has come across well in his first couple of months in England — he’s open, honest, has a ready laugh and has been amusingly self-deprecating at times.
But, as Callum Hudson-Odoi knows, there is a proper feistiness about him, too, a good feistiness, and it won’t be long before other managers start to see that side of him as well.
Tuchel knows that if he is to win anything in England, and thus keep his job at Chelsea, he will have to bring down Klopp at some point.
And, whatever he says, and however much he has already achieved, Klopp will not want to lose to Tuchel knowing the headlines that will be written both here and at home.
These things only take one flashpoint to get going and, who knows, we might even see them paired in the latter stages of the Champions League this season.
We can but hope and if the touch paper gets lit as it did for Mourinho and Benitez then we could be in for one hell of a treat.
Tuchel knows all eyes will be on what he can deliver against Liverpool.
He will also know it’s not just Chelsea supporters but football fans worldwide who’ll be hoping he can make life a lot more complicated for Klopp.