Liverpool vs Man Utd: Mark Clattenburg says Jurgen Klopp & Alex Ferguson are not good losers

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool are set to welcome Manchester United to Anfield on Sunday for a game that could shape the outcome of the title race. 

The fixture between the two English heavyweights has seldom represented a clash of title contenders in recent years, but United's resurgence this season has restored a sense of gravitas to the occasion. 

No headline-worthy fixture is complete without a war of words in the days preceding kick-off.

The great Premier League battles down the years have been underpinned by iconic press conferences and managerial rivalries, such as the bitter feud we've seen between Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger.

As Liverpool prepare to take on their historic North West rivals, though, Jurgen Klopp has been exchanging metaphorical blows with referee Mark Clattenburg rather than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

The former Premier League official claimed earlier this week that Klopp has been trying to influence Paul Tierney, who will be in charge of proceedings at Anfield this weekend, by suggesting United receive a disproportionate number of spot kicks, per Daily Mail.

In a clear attempt to undermine Clattenburg's comments, the German manager moved swiftly to play down suggestions of mind games. 

"I am not Sir Alex," said Klopp.

“When people like Mark Clattenburg speak it says much more about them than it says about me. I have no skills for playing mind games.

“I 100 per cent never mention something like [trying to win pens]. It has never happened.

"Am I surprised someone is talking about what I have said? Clattenburg? No."

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But that did not represent the end of the exchange between the two. 

Clattenburg has followed up on the former Borussia Dortmund manager's response and continued the war of words via his Daily Mail column published on Friday evening. 

The 45-year-old referee continued to peddle the comparison between Klopp and Ferguson, drawing a particular parallel to the manner in which they react to defeat.

"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."

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Rather intriguingly, Clattenburg went on to suggest that the fear factor surrounding Old Trafford has diminished in the post-Fergie era, and there is a newfound aura at Anfield that perhaps makes it more difficult psychologically for referees to give decisions against Liverpool.

"There used to be an 'aura' around United when Ferguson was there, yes. But that does not exist anymore. In fact, there is more of an aura around Klopp and Liverpool than there is United and Old Trafford."

Whether Klopp will be drawn into the discussion any further remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that the awarding of penalties will be right at the heart of the discourse when the two sides get underway on Sunday. 

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