Thursday 21 November 2019

'I promise not to mention tactical fouls' - Jurgen Klopp's cheeky swipe at Pep Guardiola after diving jibe

Klopp (right) insists he does not want to talk about Manchester City (Martin Rickett/PA)
Klopp (right) insists he does not want to talk about Manchester City (Martin Rickett/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted he 'didn't believe' Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola had accused his team of diving until he saw video evidence of the interview given by the Manchester City manager.

After Liverpool's late comeback win at Aston Villa on Saturday, Guardiola was asked by a BBC reporter to give his view on the impressive form of Klopp's side as they maintained a six-point lead at the top of the table and his response has sparked a huge debate in recent days.

"They are an incredible team," he said, refereeing to Liverpool. "Sometimes it's diving, sometimes it has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. It's a talent."

Many suspected Guardiola's comments were directed at Liverpool striker Sadio Mane on a day when he had been booked for diving in the penalty area, with the City manager likely to be asked to clarify his comments when he speaks to the media on Tuesday.

Yet the 'diving' reference has naturally infuriated Klopp and while the Liverpool manager was keen to avoid talking about City ahead of his side's Champions League game against Genk on Tuesday, he couldn't resist a verbal jab back at his rival.

"I couldn't really believe it to be honest and then I saw it," said Klopp of Guardiola's interview. "I am not sure if Pep spoke in that moment about Sadio or the team - both is not too nice to be honest.

"I am not too sure if I want to put oil on the fire. I am not interested in these kind of things. And I promise not to mention tactical fouls. That is maybe already too much, but that is the only thing I say about it."

Guardiola has been accused by rival managers and analysts of encouraging his players to foul their opponents as part of a tactical plan to halt counter-attacks throughout his management career, with Klopp more than aware that his reference to this accusation would annoy the City manager.

When asked whether he felt Guardiola's comments were timed to influence match officials ahead of Sunday's game between Liverpool and City at Anfield, he offered up this response: "I have no clue about the timing. What can I say about this?

"Do I get asked as well as much about Man City? I don't know. When I came into the interview after the game, for example, I really had no clue what the other Premier League results were. That is the truth.

"I didn't ask anybody, I had to speak to players, I had to speak to a lot of people and then I went into interviews.

"I didn't think for one second about the other games. Then after the interviews, by the way, how did the other teams play? Then someone told me, City won in the 86th minute and all this happened.

"I don't understand these types of things. My brain is not big enough to think about another team as well. I have enough to do to think about us and deal with all these things. On Wednesday, we play Genk and that deserves all my attention and gets it.

"That is the only way I can do it. After that we can speak about Manchester City - we have to. We will internally speak a lot about everything, then we will prepare the game. Before then not at all."

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