Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has labelled Jurgen Klopp as a hypocrite following the Liverpool boss' recent comments about Manchester United.
Klopp found himself at the centre of controversy recently when the Reds boss publicly suggested that referees showed an inherent bias in favour of the Red Devils when considering whether or not to award a penalty.
Former top-flight referee Clattenburg has dismissed the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss' cryptic allegations, stressing that there was no conspiracy behind the trend nor was it only United's players who attempted to deceive officials.
"Jurgen Klopp must be getting worried because his comments last week about Manchester United and penalties were straight out of [former United manager] Sir Alex Ferguson's playbook," Clattenburg wrote in his weekly column for the Daily Mail.
"It was mind games — an attempt to influence referee Paul Tierney and get inside his head before a huge match between Liverpool and United this Sunday. Klopp was correct when he said United have won more penalties in two years than Liverpool have in his five and a half at Anfield.
"He was smart, because his comments could not get him into trouble with the authorities but let's be clear: there is no conspiracy on the part of referees and officials. Was Klopp insinuating there is? Or was he suggesting United have players who are encouraged to dive?
"If his intention was the former, then I've got no time for that. It simply is not true, but if he was highlighting the ease with which some United players go down in the penalty area then, yes, I believe he was making a valid point. Even if it does ignore similar suspicions about some of his stars..."
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United have been awarded 18 penalties across all competitions since football returned in June compared to Liverpool's six and Clattenburg shared his view that, although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men go down too easily, Klopp's side are guilty of doing the same.
"...There were a couple of things to take from Klopp's comments after that game," he added. "First, he sounds like a hypocrite if he is suggesting United's players are looking to win penalties. The likes of [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane are just as capable of employing similar tactics.
"He is clearly getting edgy, though, because not since Fergie have we seen such a blatant attempt to influence a referee ahead of a big game. Klopp wasn't doing this last season when Liverpool were winning every week. He does not like losing, he never has.
"He gets prickly. But he is wrong to suggest there is an aura around United that sees them given favourable decisions. There used to be when Fergie was there, but that has eased massively since he left.
"I am the only referee to give three penalties to the opposition at Old Trafford, and that was for Liverpool, of all teams, in 2014. But David Moyes was manager — I'm not sure that would have happened when Fergie was there!"
With table-topping United set to travel to Anfield to face Liverpool this weekend, it remains to be seen whether Klopp's comments will have any bearing on the outcome of the much-anticipated encounter.