Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar has hit back at Jurgen Klopp’s jibing over the number of penalties awarded to the two clubs in recent years, suggesting it could be a cynical way for the Liverpool boss to try to influence the referees in the future.
Raw numbers show United have had 32 penalties compared to Liverpool’s 17 since the start of the 2018/19 season and Klopp was an exception following his side’s loss to Southampton on Monday night, which left Liverpool on points level with United at the top after playing one more game.
The reality specifically this season is slightly different. United have only received one more penalty in the Premier League than their rivals in the North West – six to five – and Bruno Fernandes’ miss against Newcastle last month means they both scored the same amount.
“I now hear that Manchester United have had more penalties in two years than I have in five and a half years. I don’t know if it’s my fault or how it can happen, ”Klopp said after his team’s loss.
In response, ahead of United’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City, Solskjaer chuckled at the jibes and pointed to a more sinister motive in Klopp that raised the issue.
“It’s a fact, probably. I don’t count the number of penalties they imposed. If they want to spend time worrying about when we foul each other in the box – I’m not spending time on that, ”he said, via BBC Sport.
“I can’t say why they say things like that. Last year in the FA Cup semi-finals Frank Lampard talked about it and we had a nailed penalty that we didn’t get so maybe that’s a way of influencing the referees. I do not know. When they foul our players inside the box, it’s a penalty.
United will face Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on January 17, when Solskjaer’s side could have a three-point lead thanks to an ongoing game against Burnley five days earlier.
Before that, however, they faced City for a place in the Carabao Cup final, with the winner meeting Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in April and a FA Cup third round draw against Watford.
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