Klopp thought I was trying to get Firmino sent off, says Mourinho

Managers have different takes on match and touchline bust-up after teams share spoils

 Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic: scored  late equaliser against Liverpool. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/EPA

Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic: scored late equaliser against Liverpool. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/EPA

 

José Mourinho said his bust-up with Jürgen Klopp during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool was because the visiting manager believed he tried to get Roberto Firmino sent off.

The incident occurred late on at Old Trafford when Ander Herrera grabbed the Brazil forward, whose retaliation ended with United’s midfielder on the floor.

The referee, Michael Oliver, booked each player for the incident. Yet it caused Klopp and Mourinho to have a furious exchange that culminated with the German shaking off the Portuguese’s pat.

The United manager said: “He thought I was asking for his player to be sent off. I wasn’t. There was no problem at all. I think the game was correct. I think the players gave everything, but in an emotional and professional way, so the referee did very well in that part of the game – emotional and in control of good professionals. There was aggression, but it was good, so I think it was great publicity for the Premier League all around the world.”

Klopp had a different take, saying: “He [Mourinho] wanted the minimum of a yellow card. I don’t know. I think the ref whistled before anything else happened. Roberto is a footballer from head to toe and he wanted to stay in the game. He could have passed the ball, but that was a yellow card for Herrera and nothing else.

“In the end it was a yellow card for the guy who wanted to play football. It could have been even worse if someone wants to see it again and all that stuff. We [he and Mourinho] could not have the same opinion in this moment.”

The points were shared after James Milner’s 27th-minute penalty was cancelled out by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 84th-minute header. By then, Mourinho had introduced Marouane Fellaini to offer his side a greater aerial threat. This prompted Klopp to describe United’s approach as more direct.

“In the end period of the game when United started playing long balls – Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – after 80 minutes’ high-intensity football it is really hard. I hoped we would have a bit of luck. Unfortunately not, but all good. Monday I can enjoy the result, but tonight only the performance,” Klopp said.

Initiative

Mourinho, in turn, believed his side took all of the initiative.

“We were the team that attacked and Liverpool were the team that defended,” he said. “Let’s see if the critics are fair. I enjoyed it, but I will obviously be disappointed we didn’t get the three points.”

Unlike October’s drab goalless draw at Anfield, the 50th Premier League meeting of the bitter rivals lived up to its billing in terms of entertainment and energy at Old Trafford.

Liverpool looked set to give the hosts a bloody nose as James Milner fired home a first-half penalty after Paul Pogba, whose Twitter hashtag was advertised around the pitch, handled a corner in the box.

However, the world’s most expensive player’s blushes were saved by fellow big-name summer acquisition Zlatan Ibrahimovic heading home six minutes from time to secure a 1-1 draw.

Klopp was naturally frustrated to have conceded a late equaliser, which the Liverpool boss believes was borne out of United’s direct style that ended up with the ball spending “25 minutes in the air”.

He was proud of his players’ display given that Liverpool were without a number of key men against a United team on a nine-match winning run in all competitions.

The German has now lost just one of his seven meetings with Mourinho.

Liverpool’s manager was unwilling to speak about a potential offside in the build-up to United’s equaliser or a Wayne Rooney challenge on goalscorer Milner, while Mourinho was coy on the spot-kick conceded by Pogba.

Referee’s display

The United manager had few arguments about referee Michael Oliver’s overall display, but used the penalty as a chance to make a point of his own.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know, I didn’t watch. But the referee was very close, so probably it is a penalty.

“The problem with the penalties are they are just a criteria – sometimes you give, sometimes you don’t – and it is amazing that 21 Premier League matches, plus three in the League Cup, plus one in the FA Cup is 25.

“In 25 matches, we had one penalty. It is something for the Guinness [World Records], but today was in our box and I didn’t watch.

“But I have to believe that was a penalty and I am happy for the referee if it was a penalty because his record for us this season is three matches, three penalties against. So if this time it was a penalty, I am happy for Michael.”

Mourinho clammed up when asked if he was claiming bias against his side – “no, no, you use that word, I don’t,” he said – but his frustration at failing to win was clear.

“I think it was a very emotional game,” the United boss said. “I believe very entertaining. I believe every player – our players, Liverpool players – are very tired because they gave everything they could until the limits.

“I didn’t watch, but it looked like the referee had a good performance, but I think Manchester United can play better than we did.

“And, in spite of it not being my problem, I think Liverpool can play better than they did because I have watched them play many times.

“So I think in terms of quality, the game was below the quality of both teams, but in terms of a proper Premier League match, a proper derby, it had a lot for the people to enjoy.”

– Guardian service

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