Jurgen Klopp stoked the fire ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Merseyside on January 17 by comparing penalty records after Liverpool missed out on two spot-kicks in their loss at Southampton.
Danny Ings’ well crafted second-minute lob against his former club ended Liverpool’s 12-game unbeaten run in the Premier League as the reigning champions’ winless run stretched to three games.
But Klopp was aggrieved his side were not awarded either of their two second-half penalty appeals. Sadio Mane went down under a challenge from Kyle Walker-Peters, while Jack Stephens also handled a Georginio Wijnaldum shot.
Liverpool remain top ahead of United on goal difference despite suffering a second league defeat of the season. However, Klopp’s men could be replaced as outright leaders by the time they welcome their rivals to Anfield – if United avoid defeat in their game in hand against Burnley.
Ahead of Anfield showdown, Klopp has questioned officiating over recent seasons. He claims United “had more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half years”.
“If anybody ever again will say Sadio Mane is a ‘diver’, it’s the biggest joke in the world,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “This boy tries to stay on his feet with all he has. In two situations… other teams will get a penalty for it, let me say it like this. Then the handball, I don’t know who will explain that to me.”
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Klopp added: “We had a really good view of it [the Mane incident], and it looked like a clear penalty. I turned around to the fourth official and asked if it was going to be checked, he said it already had been and was not a penalty. That’s 100 per cent true, and now someone wants to tell me how quick they had it in all these different angles.
“Last year, there was a penalty against Leicester when people said Sadio Mane goes down too easily – if he goes down easily, we would have had a penalty in this game and the last game, a stonewall penalty, but what Andre Marriner did with Sadio Mane I’m not sure if that’s okay.
“The boy tried everything, had a few great challenges with Walker-Peters. But there were a lot of situations which should have been free-kicks. The last one, when he goes down, you see that back and in the box he hits him in the end with his left foot, that’s a penalty.
“We cannot change. 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. But we can change our performance. That’s our focus now.”
Carragher disagrees over Mane penalty claim
Reds legend Jamie Carragher disagreed with Klopp, however, and said Mane had made contact with Walker-Peters when the two came together, rather than the other way round.
Carragher said: “I think Mane kicks the back of Walker-Peters’ calf. So that’s where it could be a penalty, that side, but it’s not. Mane hits the back of him.
“When you just see the other angle, he lets him come into the box, when you see the right foot come across from Walker-Peters, he makes a lunge for the ball with it. Normally when you see that, it’s someone coming across to win the ball, they don’t get it and they take the foot, or the attacker goes over it, the lazy leg, I’ve always called it.
“I’ve always said that’s not diving. If someone puts a silly challenge, and you go over that foot if it’s there. If that foot comes further across, maybe into this area, and Mane hits it, that’s a penalty. But when he actually makes that challenge, you see his right foot is planted on the floor.
“He doesn’t go far enough to make the challenge, he half pulls out of the challenge. We saw on the earlier one, it’s a case of Mane half kicking his calf. So I don’t think it was a penalty.”