Thursday 14 December 2017

Jurgen Klopp accuses Fraser Forster of being unsportsmanlike with James Milner as Liverpool stumble

Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster (L) eyes up Liverpool's English midfielder James Milner before saving his penalty yesterday
Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster (L) eyes up Liverpool's English midfielder James Milner before saving his penalty yesterday

Ian Herbert

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said that Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster’s attempts to intimidate James Milner before the penalty he missed was “not how sportsman should work”, after a frustrating draw which leaves the team still uncertain of a top four finish.

Forster stood over Milner and spoke to him as he placed the ball on the penalty spot, before appearing to put a divot of turf on the spot, whilst two members of the visiting side were also booked for dissent and time-wasting, having been justifiably penalised for Jack Stephens’ handball. Milner’s miss was the first time in nine years he has failed to convert from the spot.

Klopp – who was also clearly frustrated by Southampton’s negative mindset – said of the gamesmanship: “I really don’t like it to make a story of it. You saw what they did. Why do you need my say on it? On one side you say it is very smart because [Milner] missed and on the other not sportsmanship. Two yellow cards for them and with the time delay, I don’t know how long Forster needed for his kicks, four minutes, that is ambitious. But I have nothing to do with it. Whatever I say we look like bad losers.”

Referee Bobby Madley booked James Ward-Prowse for taking a bottle out of  Forster’s net to waste time after kick was awarded, Cedric Soares went into the book for dissent and Forster was slow to leave the six-yard box for his goal line though, though was not booked.

Klopp also said the dryness of the Anfield pitch – which is being relaid this summer - had been a problem. “We gave all the water we had and after 15 minutes it was really dry, the wind and a little bit… It was difficult,” he observed. “You could see it – a lot passes you thought ‘why are they playing this?’ but it was difficult. In a possession game you need to have the best, if possible, in a home game especially, the best circumstances. Today we couldn’t have this.”

Klopp’s prime frustration, though, will be his side’s failure to score in 360 minutes of football this season – despite 54 shots on goal in the teams’ two Premier League games and two legs of a League Cup semi-final.

“Southampton played in a specific way,” Klopp said. “Some people will say everyone will play like this but they will not. We needed to score. They were very disciplined, very deep. It is all about scoring one and we couldn’t do this. It made life not easy.”

Southampton manager Claude Puel rejected the criticism of Klopp by saying that the penalty should not have been awarded.

“I think this penalty is harsh,” he said. “Jack turns and the ball falls in his arms but it was too harsh to concede a goal against this penalty. It was an important save. For me it was not a penalty. On the other side we could have the sending off of [Simon] Mignolet when he touch the ball outside his box."

Only when Klopp sent on substitutes Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana did Liverpool begin to show more creativity, and the German admitted that his side may now need to win their last two games, at West Ham and then at home to Middlesbrough.

“Before [today] we needed three [wins] and now I would say two would not be bad but now we concentrate on West Ham. They are in a positive season finishing mood. We have to try and get a result somehow. You saw the[m beat] Tottenham . We are still fighting and nobody gave up. We have one point more than we had before. The best manager I had and the most experienced in these situations said at the end of the season this point will be really welcome. We will see. We have to analyse this game. We will do it one more time.”

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