Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has laughed off Jurgen Klopp’s comparison of penalty records between Manchester United and Liverpool, but suggested the point could have been made to influence referees.
Klopp was aggrieved Liverpool were not awarded either of their two second-half penalty appeals in the 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Monday night, with a Kyle Walker-Peters challenge on Sadio Mane and Jack Stephens’ handball while blocking a Georginio Wijnaldum shot going unpunished by referee Andre Marriner.
Speaking after the match, Klopp said: “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. But it’s no excuse for the performance. We cannot change it, we have to respect the decisions.”
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In response, Solskjaer said he would not spend his time counting as his side prepare to host Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening, live on Sky Sports.
“That’s a fact? Probably,” said Solskjaer. “That’s probably going to be my answer, that’s a fact that we’ve got more than them. I don’t count how many penalties they’ve had, so if they want to spend time on worrying about when we get fouled in the box… I don’t spend time on that.”
What do the penalty stats say?
Statistics show Liverpool have been awarded 30 Premier League penalties since Klopp took charge in October 2015, while United have taken 32 since the start of 2018-19.
Leicester (45), Man City (43), Man Utd (41) and Crystal Palace (36) are the four Premier League teams to have received more penalties than Liverpool since Klopp’s appointment.
‘Maybe it’s a way of influencing the referees’
Solskjaer made reference to a penalty shout which was overlooked in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season when suggesting a reason why other managers are highlighting their record.
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“I can’t talk on behalf of other managers, why they say things like this,” he said. “I felt it worked last year in the semi in the FA Cup, because Frank [Lampard] spoke about it and we had a nailed-on penalty that we should have had, that we didn’t get.
“So maybe it’s a way of influencing the referees. I don’t know. But I don’t worry about that. When they foul our players it’s a penalty when it’s inside the box.”
United lost 3-1 to Chelsea in July last year, but late in the first half they were denied a penalty after Anthony Martial went down under pressure from Kurt Zouma, with Mike Dean waving away claims while the scoreline was still goalless.
After that match, Solskjaer said “it seemed that little bit of influencing the officials worked”, which followed on from Lampard’s claim United “got a few [decisions] in their favour” from VAR heading into the semi-final.
Mourinho’s previous penalty jibes
Liverpool remain top ahead of United on goal difference, but the champions could be replaced as outright Premier League leaders by the time they welcome their rivals to Anfield on January 17 – live on Sky Sports – if United avoid defeat in their game in hand against Burnley.
Klopp is not alone in highlighting United’s penalty record, with Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho having twice referenced the amount of spot-kicks his former side have been awarded.
Last July, Mourinho said Bruno Fernandes has “proved to be a great penalty taker, one of the best in the world, because he had about 20 to score”.
And after Spurs’ win over Leeds on January 2, Mourinho aimed another apparent jibe at United while praising Heung-Min Son for reaching 100 goals for the club.
“To get the Puskas award, to be scoring 100 goals for Tottenham and to be maybe in the top three Premier League scorers without penalties,” Mourinho said.
“Some players score 10 goals a season on penalties and I’m not speaking about Harry Kane, by the way. I’m so happy for Son.”
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