Pep Guardiola is fixated with Liverpool, says Jürgen Klopp

• Liverpool manager defends Sadio Mané over diving claims
• Klopp: ‘After interviews Pep asks how other teams play’

Jürgen Klopp has suggested Pep Guardiola is fixated with Liverpool as “my brain is not big enough” to think of Premier League rivals in the immediate aftermath of a game.

The Manchester City manager accused Sadio Mané of diving after he was booked for simulation at Aston Villa on Saturday where he also scored the 94th-minute winner that preserved Liverpool’s six-point lead over the champions.

Guardiola’s allegations came shortly after his team’s victory over Southampton and Klopp, who rejected the criticism of Mané, has questioned how a manager would find time post-match to know not only the result but the finer details of another game.

Klopp aimed his own dig at City, who face Liverpool in an eagerly awaited contest at Anfield on Sunday, by claiming he would not mention tactical fouls in his response to Guardiola’s comments.

“I couldn’t really believe it to be honest and then I saw it,” the Liverpool manager said. “I am not sure if Pep spoke in that moment about Sadio or the team – both is not too nice to be honest. I am not too sure if I want to put oil on the fire. I am not interested in these kind of things. And I promise not to mention tactical fouls. That is maybe already too much.”

Klopp added: “When I came into the interview after the game [at Villa Park] I really had no clue what the other Premier League results were. That is the truth. I didn’t ask anybody, It was 45 minutes after the game when I heard the results of the other games. When I come into the dressing room I don’t say: ’What’s the result of the other games?’ I had to speak to players, I had to speak to a lot of people and then I went into interviews. I didn’t think for one second about the other games.

“Then, after the interviews, [he will ask] how did the other teams play? Then someone told me City won in the 86th minute and all this happened. I don’t understand these types of things. My brain is not big enough to think about another team as well. I have enough to do to think about us. Tomorrow we play Genk and that deserves all my attention and gets it. That is the only way I can do it. After that we can speak about Manchester City – we have to.”

Guardiola had claimed that Liverpool’s latest comeback at Villa was no great surprise “because [Mané] is a special talent. Sometimes he’s diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute.” The Senegal international has won decisive late penalties for Liverpool this season in victories over Leicester and Tottenham. Klopp says both were legitimate and that Saturday’s incident, while not worthy of a penalty, was the result of contact from Villa’s right-back Frédéric Guilbert.

“I can say Sadio is not a diver,” he insisted. “There was a situation in the Aston Villa game where he got contact and went down. Maybe it was not a penalty but there was contact. It’s not like jumping over a leg and [acting] like he hit you or whatever. All the other penalties were penalties because he was in that situation. I am 100% sure if something like this happened for Manchester City they would want to have a penalty because somebody kicked their player in the box and that’s a penalty.”

The Liverpool manager is expected to make changes for Tuesdaytonight’s Champions League game against Genk, who were beaten 4-1 when the teams met in Belgium almost a fortnight ago.

“Villa was again intense and we had to fight until the end,” he said. “I have to make some decisions and it is very important in a game like this that you have fresh legs.”

Liverpool are unbeaten in 23 European games at Anfield and, with their next two group matches at home, can take control of qualification with maximum points against the Belgian champions and then the Group E leaders Napoli. But their manager has warned that the number of chances Genk created in the last encounter shows there are no foregone conclusions in the Champions League.

Klopp said: “We really respect them a lot. You have to defend [against] them well and I don’t like football games if you only speak about offensive things. That is not the respect you need for an opponent at Champions League level.

“First and foremost we have to create an atmosphere that makes life uncomfortable for them on the pitch and in the stands. We have to create that power again. Then it will be difficult for Genk. They know that. But they are here to try and take their chance because everyone expects us to win. That is a wonderful situation for them. If they win and Napoli beat Salzburg they are closer to the Europa League and us and there are a lot of things still possible in the group. We have to make sure that we improve our situation, not their situation.”


Andy Hunter

The GuardianTramp

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