LONDON－Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Tuesday hit back at Jurgen Klopp’s jibes about Manchester United’s penalty record as the Old Trafford boss claimed English Premier League managers are trying to influence referees.
Liverpool boss Klopp highlighted the large number of penalties given to United since Solskjaer took charge in a rant triggered by the champion not being awarded a spot-kick when Sadio Mane went to ground in the area during Monday’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton.
Klopp claimed United has had more spot-kicks in two years under Solskjaer than Liverpool has in his entire five-and-a-half-year reign.
United has been awarded six league penalties this season compared to the five won by Klopp’s men. It has been given 42 in all competitions since Solskjaer took over in December 2018 compared to Liverpool’s 19 in the same period.
Liverpool has had 46 penalties since Klopp arrived on Merseyside in 2015.
Klopp’s comments touched a nerve with Solskjaer, whose second-place team is due to play leader Liverpool at Anfield in a crucial clash in the Premier League title race on Jan 17.
When Klopp’s remarks were put to Solskjaer ahead of United’s League Cup semifinal against Manchester City on Wednesday, he said: “And that’s a fact, probably…
“That’s probably going to be my answer, that’s a fact that we’ve got more than them.
“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 then I don’t spend time on that.”
Solskjaer’s use of the word ‘fact’ recalled former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez’s infamous rant at then United manager Alex Ferguson in 2009.
But Solskjaer was just as frustrated with the comments of other Premier League bosses, after both Tottenham’s Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard referenced United’s good fortune with penalties.
Solskjaer believes United can feel aggrieved about last season’s FA Cup semifinal defeat against Chelsea. The Norwegian suggested Lampard influenced decisions in that game when Kurt Zouma’s challenge on Anthony Martial was not deemed worthy of a spot-kick.
“I can’t talk on behalf of other managers, why they say things like this,” Solskjaer said.
“Obviously I felt it worked last year in the semi in the FA Cup because Frank 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 referees. I don’t know.
“But I don’t worry about that. You know when they foul our players I think it is a penalty, it’s just when it’s inside the box.”