Klopp is winning hearts and minds
Liverpool boss proves that winning with style and smiles is possible
In the English Premier League, perception is reality.
Juergen Klopp dazzles like a Serengeti sunset and Louis van Gaal is as dull as dishwater.
Liverpool and Manchester United are light and shade, fizzy and flat, our latest heroes and villains in an ever-changing storyline.
Van Gaal will point to his track record, and the current league standings, as proof that there's a method to the maddening tedium.
But the reality is always a less appealing narrative than the perception.
Klopp is winning hearts and minds at a time when the usual suspects at the summit are conspiring to produce one bore-fest after another.
Now that the German is also winning matches, and lots of them, it's a one-sided battle. It's inspiration over exasperation. It's Klopp 1 van Gaal 0.
Liverpool and United are being built in their coach's image and the contrasts are striking.
Sparkling, inventive performances from Liverpool are embarrassing the functional and formulaic plods to victory from United.
The Reds can't stop smiling. The Red Devils can't stop scowling. Both sides mirror their respective managers.
Before Southampton were savaged in the League Cup on Thursday morning (Singapore time), Klopp sort out one player for a last-minute intervention.
The German has long had a soft spot for Divock Origi, the bright young Belgian he had tried to bring to Borussia Dortmund.
He told Origi to simplify, to move naturally and play for fun. The 20-year-old was obsessed with raising his game to play Premier League football. Klopp told him to return to playground football. He had no interest in a nervous young man. He wanted the cocky kid back.
Klopp needed just a few minutes to correct his Liverpool protege's confidence wobbles. Origi needed just 41 minutes to reciprocate.
He scored the perfect hat-trick - left foot, right foot, header - and suddenly Liverpool's fourth-choice striker was ready for first-team football.
At the same time, the Old Trafford autocrat was further strangling the restrictive atmosphere within the United camp.
Van Gaal's "supper club" routine, according to several reports, is inhibiting frustrated players who already feel straitjacketed.
On the eve of matches, the Dutchman conducts lengthy team meetings that last hours before concluding with a 10pm supper.
From men to boys, United's players are allegedly struggling with being treated like children, yet another indication that they aren't to be trusted, their creative impulses forever curtailed by a micro-manager.
These stories rely on "sources", but disillusioned Red Devils are leaking information to the media with an alarming regularity, more so even than during the David Moyes era.
Moyes paid the price for not trusting the judgment of senior pros whereas Sir Alex Ferguson positively insisted on independent thought and risk-taking. He was adamant that matches couldn't be won without them.
But van Gaal's insistence on playing the sheepdog, herding his players into a pen to bleat on cue not only goes against the whimsical "Manchester United way", it's also unsustainable.
Ferguson was no less an autocratic figure, but he never manufactured robots. He made mavericks. He demanded invention. There was always freedom within limits.
Now there are just limits, the United players reduced to pieces on van Gaal's Monopoly board. Do not pass go without the Dutchman's permission.
The contrast in styles between United and Liverpool in recent games must alarm the Manchester faithful. If ever proof were needed that a manager's philosophy has a major bearing on his team's fortunes, then both clubs just provided it.
Liverpool have a lengthy injury list and are still somehow overburdened with attacking options. United's squad are largely fit and available, but van Gaal emphasises an urgent need to buy some youthful, speedy dynamism, i.e. the qualities he keeps getting rid of (Angel di Maria, Adnan Januzaj).
Nor can he inspire anything resembling consistency from Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay, the two expensive signings expected to carry United closer to the summit.
Meanwhile, Klopp went to a full-strength Southampton side and conjured six goals with 20-year-old Connor Randall playing 90 minutes in defence, a fourth-choice striker scoring a hat-trick and a competent cameo from Brad Smith, the 21-year-old Aussie left back.
Christian Benteke, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and James Milner never left the bench.
The personnel haven't changed at either club, only the message and its delivery. The German whispers in the ear and sends out warriors. The Dutchman waffles on for hours and sends out zombies.
Klopp has taken off the L-plates and handed over the keys. Van Gaal won't take off the handbrake.
Both clubs are making progress of sorts, but only the Reds smile when they're winning.
And at this rate, Liverpool will have the last laugh.