Ahead of what’s expected to be an epic Super Sunday clash between Liverpool and Manchester United, former Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg, has launched an astonishing broadside at Jurgen Klopp.
The German had already fired back at the former official after comments in his newspaper column had angered the Liverpool manager, so this latest round of tit-for-tat will only keep the wound open.
It’s the last thing that Klopp really needs to be dealing with before his biggest domestic game of this season.
“Jurgen Klopp says he ‘does not have the skills for mind games’, after he responded on Friday to my column from Thursday’s Sportsmail,” Clattenburg wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“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.
“But the point I made on Thursday was that, by Klopp referencing the amount of penalties Manchester United have won in comparison to Liverpool, I believe he was trying to get inside the head of the referee ahead of Sunday’s huge game at Anfield.
“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.”
There’s simply no need for Clattenburg to involve himself in what’s becoming an escalating war of words.
Having recently retired from top-flight officiating, one can only surmise that such controversy is on the basis that Clattenburg still wants to come across as relevant.
After all, he was never one to shun the limelight during his refereeing career.
Quite what Klopp intends to do after this latest, pointed accusation, is anyone’s guess.