Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has dismissed Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola’s claim that Sadio Mane is a diver.
And instead of getting dragged into a psychological war ahead of the Premier League’s top two sides meeting at Anfield on Sunday, Klopp stated he was “not in the mood to talk about Man City”.
Mane was booked after going down in the area under a challenge by Frederic Guilbert before going on score a stoppage-time winner at Aston Villa on Saturday, and afterwards City boss Guardiola said of the Senegal international: “Sometimes he’s diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute”.
Klopp brushed it off, saying: “I am not 100 per cent sure if he spoke about Sadio or us in general.
“I didn’t hear Sadio’s name or know how we could have known so quick about any incident in the game.
“I can say Sadio is not a diver. There was a situation in the Aston Villa game where he got contact and went down, maybe it was not a penalty but there was contact, it’s not as if he jumped over a leg and went down.”
Klopp refused to countenance talk about Sunday’s clash with City – currently six points behind the Reds – with a Champions League home tie with Genk to negotiate.
“I am absolutely not in the mood today to talk about Man City,” he added.
Asked if he was banning the words ‘Manchester City’ until after Tuesday’s match Klopp said: “You can say the words Man City, you just cannot think about it.
“The story the boys wrote in the last three years was only possible because we were always focused on the next game.
“No-one thinks, and I don’t have to tell them, ‘City is on Sunday, tomorrow is Genk’.
“We have bigger ambitions in this competition than tomorrow night so we have to be 100 per cent spot on.
“We have to make sure we get these three points and that only works if you are 100 per cent focused on that.
“I don’t doubt my players at all, I would feel a bit embarrassed if I had to tell them, ‘Don’t think about Man City already’.”
Liverpool have earned themselves a reputation for scoring late goals – they have scored deep into added time in the last two games, once to equalise against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup and then to beat Villa – and have done it more times than anyone else in the Premier League this season.
Saturday’s win at Villa Park prompted midfielder James Milner to post a jokey health warning, stating: “If you suffer from anxiety or heart problems it’s not advisable to support LFC.”
Klopp apologised for it being something of an emotional rollercoaster but stressed things usually worked out fine.
“All my family and friends tell me the same, they try to enjoy our games but it is more nervy and exciting in their opinion,” he said.
“To be honest it (Villa) was not that intense heart attack-wise. We have to accept if you are really good you should win the game.
“Staying on track really shows character and mentality, don’t get bothered by things you can’t have influence on.
“They (players) have been together for a while to create this belief but we don’t expect it will happen without our influence.
“But I can imagine it is really hard to follow us and I am sorry for that – but at least at the end most of the time there is some relief.”