Mark Clattenburg has hit back at Jurgen Klopp, saying the Liverpool manager is a master of mind games and a bad loser.
Clattenburg used his column in the Daily Mail to suggest Klopp had made a “blatant attempt to influence a referee ahead of a big game” by questioning why Manchester United had received more penalties than Liverpool.
The two sides meet at Anfield on Sunday in a blockbuster Premier League clash, and the pressure is ramping up ahead of the game.
Klopp hit back at Clattenburg in his press conference on Friday, saying: “I’m not Sir Alex [Ferguson], I don’t try mind games. I was asked directly after the Southampton game and I didn’t think for one second about the United game. I saw the stats about penalties before the Southampton game, that was it.
“When people like Mark Clattenburg speak now, it always says much more about them than it ever could about me. Maybe if he was ever in my situation then he would play mind games, but unfortunately I have no skills for playing mind games!”
Clattenburg penned a response in the Daily Mail, saying Klopp is well versed in mind games and feels the German is on edge on account of the Reds’ indifferent run of form.
“Jurgen Klopp says he does not have the skills for mind games,” Clattenburg wrote. “So that will be the same Klopp who stands and stares at the opposition warming up before the game?
“He knows what he's doing, he's incredibly smart, it's why he's one of the best managers we've had in the Premier League.
“Klopp once tried to stare me out before a match. That's fine, he has a presence and an aura that he uses for the benefit of his team.
“I remarked how not since Sir Alex Ferguson had we seen such blatant mind games. Klopp denies this and said: 'I am not Sir Alex'.
“But then why did he mention United's penalties so specifically? I don't know if he was accusing United's players of diving or if he was suggesting they got favourable decisions. Only he knows his motivation.
“I also think he is getting prickly because of Liverpool's recent form. I've seen it before with him, he's not a good loser. Ferguson wasn't, either. They are more alike than he perhaps realises.”