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“I’m not Ferguson, I don’t play mind games! – Klopp responds to Clattenburg’s claims of hypocrisy

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The Liverpool boss was unimpressed with the ex-Premier League referee’s comments ahead of this weekend’s tight clash with Manchester United

Jurgen Klopp hit back at Mark Clattenburg after the former Premier League referee accused the Liverpool boss of ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘mind games’ ahead of this weekend’s clash with Manchester United.

Clattenburg, speaking in the Daily mail, suggested that Klopp had made a “blatant attempt to influence a referee before a big game” when the German asked – after his side’s 1-0 loss to Southampton on January 4 – why United had received so many penalties than Liverpool.

“Now I hear Manchester United have had more penalties in two years than I have had in five and a half years,” Klopp told St Mary’s. “I don’t know if it’s my fault or how it can happen.”

Responding to those comments, Clattenburg, who retired from Premier League refereeing in 2017, wrote: “Firstly, he looks like a hypocrite if he suggests United players are looking to win penalties. The likes of Mo Salah and [Sadio] Mane is equally capable of employing similar tactics.

“He’s clearly getting pissed off, though, because not since Fergie have we seen such a blatant attempt to influence a referee before a big game. Klopp didn’t do that last season when Liverpool were winning every week.

“He doesn’t like to lose, he never did. It becomes spicy. But he’s wrong to suggest that there is an aura around United that allows them to make favorable decisions. It used to be when Fergie was there, but that has eased considerably since leaving.

“It was mind games – an attempt to sway referee Paul Tierney and get into his head ahead of a huge game between Liverpool and United this Sunday.”

Asked about the row during his pre-game press conference on Friday, ahead of Sunday’s top-of-the-table meeting at Anfield, Klopp responded in kind.

He told reporters: “Am I surprised someone is talking about what I said after the Southampton game? No. Am I surprised Mark Clattenburg is talking about it? No.

“I don’t know why or if we asked him about it, but it’s good that we can talk about him long after his career [has finished].

“I’m not Sir Alex, I don’t try mind games. I was asked the question directly after the Southampton game and I didn’t think for a second of the United game. I saw the penalty statistics before the Southampton game, that’s all.

“When people like Mark Clattenburg speak now, it always says a lot more about them than it ever says about me. Maybe if he was in my situation he would play mind games, but unfortunately I don’t have any skills to play mind games!

Klopp also rejected the idea that he would ever order his players to go to the ground easily in order to ensure that penalties are assessed.

Sadio mane

“Never,” he said, making a “crossed heart” gesture. “I can say 100% that I never, ever mentioned anything like this to any player that I have worked with. I worked with a lot of players in my day, and you can ask them all. It never happened.

“In the last two games, there have been two situations in which Sadio Mane had a bad situation. There was a handball [against Southampton] and another situation [vs Newcastle] where Sadio did not stay. If people say he’s a diver or whatever, that’s not fair.

“Against Newcastle we had a photo where the goalkeeper is on the ground and has both arms around Sadio Mane’s legs. He didn’t fall, he tried to score the goal. I didn’t speak to her and I didn’t say “why didn’t you come down?”

“If Sadio needs to get off, he falls. Otherwise, then no. It’s natural. It is not the player who has to make a penalty decision, it is the referee.

He added: “After the Southampton game what I really tried to understand is how people living on another planet see it – that handball was not handball, and that Sadio Mane was not was not a penalty.

“I think it was Mr. Dermot [Gallagher, former referee] sure [Sky Sports’] Ref Watch, and he said “no handball, and no penalty” and you think “hmm, obviously I’m wrong and they’re always right!”

“I don’t want penalties that aren’t penalties. But if there is a penalty, it would be nice if they whistle it!

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