Bruno Fernandes Hits Back at Jurgen Klopp for Penalty Remarks

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It’s Manchester United vs. Liverpool weekend, and that means emotions will be running high, on both sides. This edition of the rivalry series is bigger than what we’ve seen in recent years as this time the two clubs are one and two in the table.

And of course, a match this big brings some prematch smack talk.  It started 10 days ago when Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp aimed a dig at United, hinting that his side doesn’t get treated as well by the officials as United do. United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t take that lying down, nor should he have. Now Bruno Fernandes, United’s designated penalty taker, has jumped into the fray.

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Fernandes, who has converted 15 penalties for United since moved over from Sporting Lisbon a year ago, says he doesn’t care what outsiders think. For the record, Leicester City have been awarded the most penalties this season, with 10. United have been awarded six, one more than Liverpool’s five.

“I don’t care, honestly,” Fernandes said. You always see what people say but I really don’t care. I’m not focused on what they are saying.”

He then went on to say that Klopp is trying to game this system here, working the referees before the big match. Bruno Fernandes said he’s seen it before.

“I played in Portugal and when you play for Sporting, Benfica and Porto are always talking about that kind of stuff,” he continued.

“Sometimes to put pressure on the referee, sometimes just to make some noise in the press. But, for me, the main point is when we have a penalty, if I go to take the ball to the penalty spot, I have to do my job.”

Jurgen Klopp, for his part, says he doesn’t play mind games, and claims he doesn’t even have the possibility to do so. In making this claim, Klopp was responding to allegations, by former official Mark Clattenburg that he was copying the methods of United’s legendary club patriarch, Sir Alex Ferguson.

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“I am not sure if he was asked a lot of things, but long after his career, it is nice for him that we can talk about him as well,” Klopp said of the Calttenburg remarks.

“But I am not Sir Alex and this is not mind games. After the Southampton game, we had another game [Aston Villa in the FA Cup] before United and I didn’t think for a second about the United game in that moment, but before the game at Southampton, I saw the stat about the penalties (for United) and that’s what I mentioned.

“But people like Mark Clattenburg, speaking how they speak, it says much more about them than it could ever say about me.

“If he would be in my situation, he would obviously play mind games, but unfortunately I have no skills for playing mind games and that’s my problem.”

Ferguson, as of yet, has not responded to Klopp’s or Clattenburg’s words. The match official on Sunday is Paul Tierney.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of  “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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