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Jurgen Klopp's recent comments about the amount of penalties Manchester United are awarded were a “blatant” attempt to influence officials ahead of Liverpool's clash against the Red Devils on Sunday, according to a former Premier League referee.
The former official did admit that there used to be “an aura” around United when the Scot was in charge that saw the club earn favourable decisions, but insists that has gone since Fergie left the club, adding that Klopp should take a look at his own players before criticising others.
“There were a couple of things to take from Klopp's comments,” Clattenburg wrote in the Daily Mail. “First, he sounds like a hypocrite if he is suggesting United's players are looking to win penalties. The likes of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane are just as capable of employing similar tactics.
“He is clearly getting edgy, though, because not since Fergie have we seen such a blatant attempt to influence a referee ahead of a big game. Klopp wasn't doing this last season when Liverpool were winning every week.
“He does not like losing, he never has. He gets prickly. But he is wrong to suggest there is an aura around United that sees them given favourable decisions. There used to be when Fergie was there, but that has eased massively since he left.
“It was mind games — an attempt to influence referee Paul Tierney and get inside his head before a huge match between Liverpool and United this Sunday.”
Clattenburg did concede that United's players can go down too easily in the box – just as Liverpool's can – but insists that there is no “conspiracy” playing out behind the scenes.
“Klopp was correct when he said United have won more penalties in two years than Liverpool have in his five and a half at Anfield. He was smart, because his comments could not get him into trouble with the authorities,” he said.
“But let's be clear: there is no conspiracy on the part of referees and officials. Was Klopp insinuating there is? Or was he suggesting United have players who are encouraged to dive? If his intention was the former, then I've got no time for that. It simply is not true.