Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reacted to Jurgen Klopp’s comments regarding Manchester United’s penalty record and believes the Liverpool manager could be attempting to influence referees.
Klopp’s comments came in the wake of Liverpool‘s 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Monday, with the Premier League champions seeing two second-half penalty appeals rejected as they crashed to a second league defeat of the season at St Mary’s.
The German questioned the number of penalties his side have received in comparison to rivals, highlighting United’s league-leading numbers with the Red Devils having been awarded 26 spot-kicks over the past two years – twice as many as Liverpool.
“I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half years,” Klopp said. “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.”
Solskjaer laughed off the comments directed towards his side from Klopp, however, and says the number of penalties awarded to rival sides would not be something he would ‘spend time’ worrying about, while seemingly making reference to Rafael Benitez’s infamous ‘fact’ rant back in 2009.
A reminder that Liverpool have had only one less penalty than Manchester United this season. pic.twitter.com/vw2HX7YJC7
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 5, 2021
“That’s a fact? Probably,” Solskjaer responded at his pre-match press conference. “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.”
Solskjaer also gave his view on Klopp’s decision to highlight United’s penalty record, believing the comments could be a way of ‘influencing’ referees, pointing to similar comments made by Frank Lampard ahead of last season’s FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea.
“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 travel to face Liverpool in the Premier League on January 17th, with the two sides currently locked together on points at the top of the division, though the Red Devils will have played their game in hand against Burnley by that point.