Antonio Conte Responds to Jurgen Klopp’s Verbal Jab

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Liverpool FC’s Premier League title hopes may be on the ropes right now, but at least their manager, Jurgen Klopp, is currently involved in not just one, but two verbal sparring sessions with opposing managers. We’ve already covered the back-and-forth with Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola here   and here.

Now, on to the tiff with Tottenham Hotspur’s Antonio Conte. After Spurs played Liverpool to a score draw over the weekend, severely damaging the Reds’ title hopes in the process, Klopp said “I don’t like this kind of football” in reference to the Tottenham counter-attacking approach.

The German also called it a “game-plan [which] works for these games but they’re still fifth.”

It was a little reminiscent of when Hope Solo slammed Pia Sundage and Sweden for playing pragmatic in the medal round of the 2016 Olympics, right after the Swedes eliminated the Stars and Stripes.

Klopp has since walked back his comments a bit, but Antonio Conte has since fired back

“We analysed the game the day after and for sure if there was a team that deserved to win and had the chances created to win, it was Tottenham not Liverpool,” the Italian said.

“I think Klopp understood that he gained one point, not lost two points. At the same time, I think Jurgen is an intelligent person, he is very clever, he was a bit frustrated after the game.

“But at the same time, that for a top coach, for every coach it is important to learn that after the game, be focused on your team, not on your opponent.

“If you focus on your opponent, it means you want to find an excuse or an alibi because your job didn’t [go] well or something was wrong.”

Conte, who comprised one half of perhaps the greatest Premier League manager war of words ever (against Jose Mourinho in early 2018) is not wrong.

It’s a cliche in sports that is just as timeless as it simple to bat down. Any time a sports figure rips an opponent for besting them in a fashion that seems cheap and easy, well, then why couldn’t your side stop them?

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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