Former referee Mark Clattenburg has admitted to being bias in his decision-making as he looked to call out Jurgen Klopp‘s recent penalty remarks.
The remarks he is referring to relates to the manager highlighting the disparity in penalties awarded to his side since his arrival in 2015 and Man United‘s in the last two years.
Liverpool have been awarded 30 spot-kicks since October 2015, while United have had 32 since the start of 2018/19 alone – which left Klopp questioning “how that can happen” after the loss at Southampton.
There was no desire to use such decisions, or lack thereof, as an excuse for the Reds’ inability to pick up all three points on that occasion or previously, but Klopp’s comments continue to draw comment.
And with the two clubs to meet on Sunday in an all-important game, Clattenburg took aim at Klopp in a column which seemed to reveal more about him than the Liverpool manager.
Having described Klopp’s comments as ones “straight out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s playbook” having been an “attempt to influence” and “get inside the head” of referee Paul Tierney, Clattenburg went on to both question and to some extent agree with Klopp.
“Let’s be clear: there is no conspiracy on the part of referees and officials,” he told the Daily Mail.
“Was Klopp insinuating there is? Or was he suggesting United have players who are encouraged to dive?
“If his intention was the former, then I’ve got no time for that. It simply is not true.
“But if he was highlighting the ease with which some United players go down in the penalty area then, yes, I believe he was making a valid point. Even if it does ignore similar suspicions about some of his stars.
“I have watched United closely this season and analysed each of their 11 penalty awards.
“There are as many as five where I believe contact was invited or even initiated by the United player. They are, in many ways, being clever.”
But while United players were “being clever,” Liverpool, and Sadio Mane, in particular, went “down too easily” at Southampton having also identified the No. 10 and Mo Salah as two players “capable of employing similar tactics” as United.
Somewhat bewildering comments which are then compounded by his admittance to bias when Alex Ferguson was at the helm at Old Trafford.
“[Klopp] does not like losing, he never has. He gets prickly. But he is wrong to suggest there is an aura around United that sees them given favourable decisions,” he continued.
“There used to be when Fergie was there, but that has eased massively since he left.
“I am the only referee to give three penalties to the opposition at Old Trafford, and that was for Liverpool, of all teams, in 2014.
“But David Moyes was manager – I’m not sure that would have happened when Fergie was there!”
Make of that what you will, but it’s pretty damning when you also realise he said the bias “has eased massively” rather than disappeared all together.