Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hit back at suggestions that he was trying to play mind games when discussing Manchester United’s recent penalty record.
In the buildup to the meeting between the two sides on Sunday, Klopp questioned how United have been awarded so many penalties over the past two years, hinting that the Red Devils are treated differently by referees.
Those comments saw former referee Mark Clattenburg accuse Klopp of ‘hypocrisy’ in his colum for the Daily Mail, claiming that the Liverpool boss was trying to copy the mind games of United great Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Am I surprised that somebody is talking about what I said about the Southampton game? No, I’m not,” Klopp said (via the Liverpool Echo). “Am I surprised that Mark Clattenburg speaks about it? No. I’m not sure if he’s been asked a lot of things long after his career (has finished), so it’s nice for him that we can talk about him as well.
“I’m not Sir Alex, and for different reasons. When he (Clattenburg) said we tried something with mind games, I was speaking directly after the Southampton game, and between this moment and then we had another game (at Aston Villa) and I didn’t think for a second about the United game in that moment.
“But before the game against Southampton, I saw the stats about the penalties, and that’s what I mentioned.
“When people like Mark Clattenburg now are speaking like they speak, it always says much more about them than it could ever say about me. If he would be in my situation he obviously would play mind games. Unfortunately I have no skills for playing mind games, that’s my problem.”
Klopp went on to discuss his comments in more depth, admitting he may have stepped out of line but standing by his point that penalty decisions are not consistent.
“After the Southampton the game, the next day pretty much the only thing I really read was to try to understand how people living on another planet obviously – like me – how they see the situation,” he said.
“The handball was not handball, and the Sadio Mane thing… I think it was Mr Dermot (Gallagher) on ref watch (on Sky Sports News) and he said that wasn’t handball and the other thing wasn’t a penalty as well.
“Then you think ‘obviously, I’m wrong, and they are always right’. It’s just the situation. I don’t want penalties that are not penalties. But if there’s a penalty, then it would be nice if they whistle for it as that’s part of the game.”