Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp turned on former Manchester United defender Gary Neville as tensions over the proposed European Super League ran high on Monday night.
With the Reds one of the English ‘big six’ to have signed up to the hugely controversial plans to try to supersede the Champions League with a ‘closed-shop’, Klopp was questioned about the proposals before and after a 1-1 draw at Leeds which damaged their European hopes – at least in the short term.
But Klopp was frustrated both that he and his players faced demonstrations outside Elland Road, and that Leeds warmed up in a t-shirts with the slogans ‘Earn It’ and ‘Football Is For The Fans’, with those messages also left in the away dressing room.
Asked about the t-shirts after the match, Klopp let loose with his feelings after Neville had already apologised for referencing Liverpool’s anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in his own criticism of the plans.
“I don’t like the way people are talking about the football club,” Klopp said on Sky Sports.
“I take the criticism for everything, if we don’t play well I feel responsible and the players are the same, but this, we have nothing to do with this.
“When we came here, people were shouting at us. We have to be a little bit careful…
“Gary Neville was talking about ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. This already should be forbidden. It’s our anthem. We have the right to sing our anthem. He doesn’t understand it anyway so I don’t want this because it’s not fair.
“I don’t like this either, but I don’t talk about the other clubs…
“I wish Gary Neville would be in a hot seat somewhere and not where the most money is.
“He was at Manchester United where the most money is and now he’s at Sky where the most money is. Don’t forget that we have nothing to do with this. We are in the same situation like you all. We got the information yesterday and we still have to play football.
“‘Damn them to hell?’ Did he write that today? These things are really not OK.”
Neville responded by arguing that he and Klopp were actually in agreement, but defended his own comments.
“I’ve handed out enough insults over the years to Liverpool, but yesterday was nothing to do with insulting Liverpool,” he said. “I don’t know why I’m living in his head. I don’t know what’s spiked him.
“Yesterday was an impassioned plea from me about protecting football in this country.
“My biggest disappointment was with Manchester United and Liverpool. I think I’ve equally distributed enough criticism to both clubs in the last 24 hours so I don’t know what the problem is.”
Neville said he had worked hard for his 25-year career at United and his decade-long stint in broadcasting, and added: “I employ 600 people in the city and I’ve tried to look after them in a pandemic. Is that not a hot enough seat for him?”
Neville added: “He’s done a great job at Liverpool, I love his team, but the fact of the matter is, he’s spiky. He’s been let down by his owners. His owners have thrown him under a bus.
“To be fair, we’re on the same page. We’re on the same team, but he can’t say what he wants to say and I can, and I accept that.
“The Jurgen Klopp we know hates every single little thing about this more than I do and more than you do, because it goes against everything in his life that he believes in.”