After Jurgen Klopp hit back at his previous comments of hypocrisy, Mark Clattenburg has looked to keep the words rolling as he labelled the Liverpool boss “prickly.”
This back and forth originated from Klopp bringing attention to the disparity in the number of penalties awarded to Man United than his own team.
And it has since dominated the landscape prior to the two teams meeting at Anfield on Sunday, with Clattenburg first having suggested Klopp was a hypocrite as his players dive just as much as those from other clubs.
It was a bemusing fight to pick as he put playing mind games at the feet of the Liverpool boss, who then answered in kind.
“When people like Mark Clattenburg speak like they speak, it always says much more about them than it could ever say about me,” Klopp said on Friday.
“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.”
But no doubt wanting the last word, Clattenburg was quick to respond once more as he once again labelled Klopp “prickly” and dismissed his inability to play mind games.
“Jurgen Klopp says he ‘does not have the skills for mind games,” Clattenburg wrote in his latest column. “So that will be the same Klopp who stands and stares at the opposition warming up before the game?!
“He knows what he’s doing, he’s incredibly smart, it’s why he’s one of the best managers we’ve had in the Premier League.
“Klopp once tried to stare me out before a match. That’s fine, he has a presence and an aura that he uses for the benefit of his team.
“But the point I made on Thursday was that, by Klopp referencing the amount of penalties Manchester United have won in comparison to Liverpool, I believe he was trying to get inside the head of the referee ahead of Sunday’s huge game at Anfield.
“I remarked how not since Sir Alex Ferguson had we seen such blatant mind games. Klopp denies this and said: ‘I am not Sir Alex’.
“I also think he is getting prickly because of Liverpool’s recent form. I’ve seen it before with him, he’s not a good loser. Ferguson wasn’t, either. They are more alike than he perhaps realises.”
But while Clattenburg suggests Klopp is the one attempting to put pressure on Paul Tierney, who will oversee Sunday’s game, it is only he who keeps stirring the pot to do just that.
All eyes will be on the man in the middle at Anfield more than ever and the former referee has only increased the heat.
And as Klopp rightly said: “I don’t want penalties which are not penalties, but if there’s a penalty it would be nice if there is one, because they are part of the game. That’s all.”