Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at Jurgen Klopp and accused his Premier League rivals of trying to influence referees by moaning about the number of penalties awarded to Manchester United.
Liverpool boss Klopp claimed that United have had more spot-kicks in two years under Solskjaer than he has in five-and-a-half years at Anfield.
The figure is actually 46-42 in Liverpool’s favour – and 30-27 in the Premier League – but Klopp is the latest Premier League boss to voice concern over United’s penalty count.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has also had a dig at his old club, and Frank Lampard brought it up before Chelsea faced United in last season’s FA Cup semi-final.
Asked about Klopp’s comments, Solskjaer appeared to reference the infamous ‘fact’ rant by Rafael Benitez when United and Liverpool were fighting for the title in 2009.
‘That’s a fact, probably,’ smiled Solskjaer. ‘That is probably going to be my answer. That’s a fact that we have got more than him.
I don’t know how many penalties they’ve had. I don’t count how many penalties they have, so if they want to spend time on worrying about when we get fouled in the box, I don’t spend time on that.’
United were given a total of 22 penalties in all competitions last season, more than any team in Europe’s top five leagues in the previous five years.
It included four in two games against Chelsea, and Lampard raised the issue before his team beat United 3-1 at Wembley in July.
Solskjaer blames that for referee Mike Dean’s refusal to award a penalty for Kurt Zouma’s challenge on Anthony Martial before half-time – even though Bruno Fernandes later scored United’s consolation from the spot – and is wary of officials being swayed by his rivals.
I can’t talk on behalf of other managers, why they say things like this,’ said the United boss.
‘Obviously I felt it worked last year in the FA Cup semi because Frank spoke about it. We had a nailed-on penalty that we should have had and didn’t get, so maybe it’s a way of influencing referees.
‘I don’t know but I don’t worry about that. When they foul our players it’s a penalty. It’s just when it’s inside the box.’