Jurgen Klopp has leapt to the defence of Sadio Mane, insisting his forward is not a diver and should have had a penalty in Liverpool’s loss to Southampton.
The Reds slipped to a 1-0 defeat thanks to an early goal from Danny Ings to hand the initiative to Manchester United in the title race.
Liverpool offered little as an attacking threat, with Fraser Forster only forced into once save, although they had two claims for penalties turned away.
One was a shot from Georginio Wijnaldum which struck an arm, with the second when Mane went down under challenge from Kyle Walker-Peters.
Various angles were not conclusive on the Mane incident, but Klopp feels it was a penalty and suggested the Senegal forward is too honest.
“The best situations were when Sadio had the ball,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “Anyone who ever again says Sadio Mane is a diver is the biggest joke in the world. This boy tries to stay on his feet. There were two situations where other teams will get a penalty for it.
“The handball, I do now know who will explain that to me.
"If this boy went down easy, we could have had a penalty in this game and a stonewall penalty in the last game [against Newcastle]. But what Andre Marriner did with Sadio Mane tonight, I’m not sure that’s OK, to be honest.
“He tried absolutely everything, a few great challenges with [James] Ward-Prowse, but there were a lot of situations which were free-kicks as well. The last situation where he goes down in the box, if you see that, he [Walker-Peters] hits him again with his left foot. It’s another penalty.
“I hear now that Man United had more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half years. I’ve no idea if that’s my fault, or how that can happen.
“This does not make our performance better, it should not take anything away from Southampton, but in these situations we were very unfortunate at least.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the best players in the Premier League, but was hauled off by Kloppp on 77 minutes after giving the ball away 38 times - the most of any player in the league this season.
Alexander-Arnold was at fault for Saints’ goal, as he completely missed James Ward-Prowse’s delivery - allowing Ings to score.
“The goal was defended,” Klopp said when asked to comment on Ings’ winner. “We had a player who is there to hit the ball but he misses it.
“As good as the set-piece is, we have a player there and he misses it. It is a great finish, but we should have defended it.”
Klopp dismissed suggestions that his side are struggling on the road, and wants his players to play through their current slump that has seen then take two points from a possible nine.
“I wish we only had a problem away from home,” Klopp said. "This has nothing to do with being at Southampton. We drew at home with West Brom.
“It is a rusty moment, we have to admit that.
“Only if you know the problem can you solve the problem and we are not blind to our problems.
"We just have to fight through this and play through this. It is up to us to change this.”