Jurgen Klopp has been labelled a hypocrite if his recent comments about Manchester United’s penalty record were made to suggest that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s players are more likely to dive than Liverpool’s players are.
While Jurgen Klopp remained cryptic enough to avoid any action from the Football Association, any assertion that Man United are availing of a conspiracy from officials has been dismissed outright by former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg.
Clattenburg believes Klopp was simply taking a page out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s playbook when he pointed out that United have been awarded more penalties since the beginning of the 2018/19 season than Liverpool have during the German’s five-year tenure at Liverpool.
“It was mind games — an attempt to influence referee Paul Tierney and get inside his head before a huge match between Liverpool and United this Sunday,” Clattenburg wrote in The Daily Mail.
“Klopp was correct when he said United have won more penalties in two years than Liverpool have in his five and a half at Anfield. He was smart, because his comments could not get him into trouble with the authorities.”
Solskjaer would not be drawn into a war-of-words in the media as the United boss wondered if Klopp was trying to influence the referee ahead of Sunday’s battle between first and second at Anfield.
🗣 "I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five and a half years"
Safe to say Jurgen Klopp was not happy with not being awarded a penalty against Southampton pic.twitter.com/mO4CFTqOAw
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 5, 2021
Clattenburg analysed the penalties awarded to United in recent seasons and admitted that certain players – Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood – have all been known to welcome or sometimes even initiate contact in the box.
But the official, who has refereed huge games like the Euro 2016 final and 2015/16 Champions League final, insists Liverpool also have players who need no second invitation to hit the deck in the penalty area.
“He sounds like a hypocrite if he is suggesting United’s players are looking to win penalties,” Clattenburg continued. “The likes of Mo Salah and Mane are just as capable of employing similar tactics.
“He is clearly getting edgy, though, because not since Fergie have we seen such a blatant attempt to influence a referee ahead of a big game. Klopp wasn’t doing this last season when Liverpool were winning every week.
“He does not like losing, he never has. He gets prickly. But he is wrong to suggest there is an aura around United that sees them given favourable decisions. There used to be when Fergie was there, but that has eased massively since he left.
“I am the only referee to give three penalties to the opposition at Old Trafford, and that was for Liverpool, of all teams, in 2014.
“But David Moyes was manager — I’m not sure that would have happened when Fergie was there!”