Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar has hit back at jibes from Jurgen Klopp over the number of penalties the two clubs have been awarded in recent years, suggesting it may be a cynical way for the Liverpool boss to try and influence referees in the future.
The raw figures show United have had 32 penalties compared to Liverpool’s 17 since the start of the 2018/19 season and Klopp took exception following his team’s defeat to Southampton on Monday night, which left Liverpool level on points with United at the top having played a game more.
The reality specifically this season is slightly different. United have only been awarded one more Premier League penalty than their north west rivals – six vs five – and Bruno Fernandes’ miss against Newcastle last month means they have both scored the same amount.
“I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half years. I've no idea if that's my fault, or how that can happen,” Klopp said after his side’s loss.
In response, ahead of United’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City, Solskjaer laughed off the jibes and pointed towards a more sinister motive in Klopp raising the issue.
"It's a fact, probably. I don't count how many penalties they have had. If they want to spend time on worrying about when we get fouled in the box - I don't spend time on that,” he said, via BBC Sport.
“I can't talk about why they say things like this. Last year in the FA Cup semi-final Frank Lampard spoke about it and we had a nailed-on penalty that we didn't get so maybe it's a way of influencing referees. I don't know. When they foul our players inside the box it is a penalty.”
Before then, however, they face-off against City for a place in the Carabao Cup final, with the winner to meet Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in April, and an FA Cup third round tie against Watford.
Source : 90min