Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had conceded he should not have responded to the claims from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola that his team dive, as he called a halt to the sparring with his rival ahead of Sunday’s top of the table clash at Anfield.
Guardiola suggested Liverpool ‘sometimes dive’ following their dramatic win at Aston Villa last weekend,on a day that say Red striker Sadio Mane booked for simulation.
A clearly agitated Klopp responded to that barb with a claim that Guardiola encourages his players to commit ‘tactical fouls’, but he has now conceded the petty public squabble between the Premier League’s top two managers needs to end.
“If I could do it again I wouldn’t have said it,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s just not necessary, and I know there’s a lot of respect there and the rest will be decided on the pitch.
“I’m in exactly the same situation as him. We constantly get asked questions, and sometimes we say in that second what is on our mind, without thinking of anything else – that we’re in public, that there’s a camera.
“He explained it well, saying when he speaks to his kids, it’s like this. It could be a penalty or not, and that’s a discussion they had at home. I’m completely fine with it, and I couldn’t have more respect for Pep Guardiola.
“I know him for so long, and for me, it’s still a big thing to be his contender. For me, he’s the best manager in the world, and we have the chance to win against his team which is very difficult but possible which is enough for me. From my side, there is nothing but respect.
“Of course, you can’t leave it completely without comment, but I’m not interested. There’s enough to write about before the game. It’s not necessary for us to make it bigger by the things we say.”
Klopp went on to suggest his side should target a victory in Sunday’s game and not be content with a point that would maintain their six-point lead at the top of the table.
“For me, it’s 100 per cent a ‘want to win game’. I’ve never understood ‘must-win’ games because that doesn’t change the chances,” he added.
“For us, as a team to prepare a game like this, you have to do the right thing again and again: being brave, playing football, defending for your lives.
“All the stuff around the game doesn’t really affect us. We want to win, and we’ll try everything to make that happen – which is difficult enough. The season will not stop after this, but it’s a big one, we know that.
“The whole world will be watching it, 100 per cent. Everyone I know will. I’m really looking forward to it, but the discussions around, I’m not part of.
“In the last couple of years, we both gave a lot of respect for each other. City’s performance at Liverpool last season was probably the biggest show of respect one of my teams ever got. That’s how it is.
“They played differently to what they usually do – that’s true. But, that’s football. We all have to make a plan for one game, and in this specific case against one of the best sides in the world.”