Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp laughed off some barbs from counterpart Pep Guardiola that have inflamed the Premier League title race, saying on Monday that they were heat-of-the-moment comments likely fueled by Manchester City’s painful elimination from the Champions League.
In an outburst after City’s 5-0 win over Newcastle on Sunday, Guardiola said “everyone in the country” supports Liverpool and pointed out that the Reds have only won the Premier League once in 30 years despite having a strong record in the Champions League.
Klopp didn’t appear in a mood to fight back, laughing as Guardiola’s words were read to him.
The German coach said he understood why Guardiola had made the remarks, given the manner City exited the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid on Wednesday, a day after Liverpool advanced to the final by beating Villarreal.
Madrid scored in the 90th minute and the first minute of injury time to take the game to extra time before clinching a 6-5 aggregate victory over City, who still haven’t won the Champions League.
“I don’t know exactly what situation Pep was in after getting knocked out of the Champion League, that’s already difficult enough to take, but then of course Liverpool made it to the final, eh?” Klopp said. “Then you have (people saying) these kinds of things, ‘But they played Villarreal and we played Real.’ These kinds of things.
“And he’s right, on top of it, we’ve won the Premier League only once. I have no idea if the whole country is supporting us. I don’t know that. It’s not a feeling I get when we go to other places and play there. It’s actually the opposite, but maybe he knows that more than me.”
Klopp added that he also says things he shouldn’t after games. For example, he said he regretted criticizing Tottenham’s defensive style of play in a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Saturday that has left Liverpool three points behind City in the league with three games remaining.
“The game plan works for these games,” Klopp said after the match, “but they are still fifth.”
Two days later, the Liverpool manager was rueful and said: “As a manager, we are obviously, massively influenced by the game, by the situation. What I said, would I say it again? No. But I said after the game, they play like they play and are still only fifth. It felt good at that moment, but anyway, it was wrong.
“It was just my feeling at that moment.”