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What did Solskjaer expect? Of course Jurgen Klopp wants to influence referees

Jurgen Klopp certainly will hope to influence referees. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems surprised by that revelation, however.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp questioned penalty decisions after losing to Southampton. There certainly were a couple of instances in the second half that asked questions.

It came after a Newcastle United game where Liverpool really should have had a penalty.

“I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five-and-a-half years,” said Klopp, per Sky Sports. “I’ve no idea if that’s my fault, or how that can happen. But it’s no excuse for the performance.

“We cannot change it, we have to respect the decisions.”

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And Klopp is right. He’s had 30 penalties since taking over at Liverpool in October 2015. United have managed to win 32 since 2018.

You can’t blame the guy for asking some questions, then.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer responded to the comments on Tuesday, pondering whether Klopp wanted to influence referees.

“Maybe it’s a way of influencing the referees,” he said, per Sky Sports. “I don’t know. But I don’t worry about that.

“When they foul our players it’s a penalty when it’s inside the box.”

Well, of course Klopp wants to influence referees.

Back of the mind

The statistics, as per the Sky Sports article, are interesting to say the least. In 18/19, Liverpool had over 1200 touches inside the opposition box for seven penalties.

United had 965 but won 12.

Last season saw a similar pattern. Liverpool, again, had over 1200 touches but won only five penalties. United, in contrast, won 14 from another 965 touches.

That an enormous difference.

Now, obviously, United earned penalties in both seasons. Most of them are stonewall. But these stats certainly suggest that it’s easier for United to win a penalty than Liverpool.

United do play a very counter-attacking style with pace up top, of course. That will naturally lead to penalties when you get in the box.

Only, Liverpool also look to play on the break with pace up top – it doesn’t explain the difference.

Perhaps it’s all coincidence, of course, but the pattern is there. And Klopp will very much want that pattern in referees minds over the rest of the season.

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The two teams are first and second in the Premier League and facing off next week. Klopp won’t want a title race coming down to a weak penalty decision.

So yes, he’s trying to influence referees on this one. But he’ll feel entirely justified in doing so, given the strange pattern.

Klopp, with strange data in front of him, wants referees to assess and consider it. Anyone would do the same in a potential title race.

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