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KLOPP FUMES Jurgen Klopp hits back at claims he is trying to influence referees as he hopes for a fitness boost

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Jurgen Klopp has had plenty to contend with this season

Jurgen Klopp has had plenty to contend with this season

Jurgen Klopp has had plenty to contend with this season

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has strongly rejected suggestions he is trying to influence referees with comments suggesting his side are being treated differently than their title rivals.

Klopp highlighted Manchester United's record of being awarded penalties and has hit out at VAR decisions over the course of this season, inspiring former referee Mark Clattenburg to suggest Klopp was trying to sway opinions with his comments ahead of big games.

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Clattenburg suggested former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has an influence of match officials who were intimidated by his presence, yet Klopp insists he is not following the lead of the legendary Scot.

“Am I surprised that somebody is talking about what I said about the Southampton game? No, I’m not, but I’m not Sir Alex,” said Klopp

“When he (Clattenburg) said we tried something with mind games, I was speaking directly after the Southampton game. 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.”

Since the start of last season, United have been awarded 20 penalties, twice as many as their arch-rivals, in all competitions and since Klopp took over in October 2015 the tally is 41-30 in the Premier League in United’s favour.


United striker Marcus Rashford revealed on Friday when Jose Mourinho was manager at Old Trafford he told the England international he had to be more “savvy” in winning spot-kicks.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been criticised by some pundits for going down too easily, so has Klopp ever told his players to be more streetwise inside the area?

“I can 100 per cent honestly say I never mentioned something like this to any player I have worked together with,” he added.

“I have worked with a lot of players in my time and ask all of them, it never happened. That’s it. We just didn’t speak about it.

“Sadio Mane had a foul situation (against Southampton) which was a penalty for me, but it’s not important because I cannot whistle but I can say my opinion,” he said.

“There was the handball, and there was another situation where Sadio didn’t go down and that’s why I said that when people still say he’s a diver – it’s just not right.

“The game before against Newcastle, we had pictures where the goalie is sat on the ground and has both arms around Sadio Mane’s legs. He didn’t go down. He tried to score the goal.

“I didn’t tell him ‘Why didn’t you go down?’. We didn’t speak about it. Sadio knows (if he’s been fouled). If Sadio feels he has been fouled, he goes down. That’s how it is. If not, then not, obviously.

“It’s not the player who should make the decision whether there be a penalty or not. It’s the referee who should make the decision.

“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.”

Klopp will assess Joel Matip in training before deciding whether to start the centre-back against United at Anfield on Sunday after he missed three matches with a groin problem.

Midfielder Naby Keita, however, will not feature having not played since December 19 due to an ongoing muscle problem.

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