Angry Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp criticised the refereeing of Polish official Szymon Marciniak for making his side look like “butchers” in their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Reds boss was unhappy with the hosts’ play-acting and highlighted Neymar’s role as the Ligue 1 club consigned Liverpool to a third away defeat in Group C.
Six Liverpool players were booked and only two for PSG, although there was an argument midfielder Marco Verratti could have been sent off for an over-the-top challenge on Joe Gomez, and Klopp said it made his team look like aggressors.
“The number of interruptions in that game was just not cool,” said the German.
“Two times in a row we won the Fair Play award in England and tonight we look like butchers after the yellow cards we had.
“It was clever of PSG, especially Neymar, but a lot of other players went down like it was really something serious and we were not that calm any more.
“We were aggressive, and unfortunately negative aggression doesn’t help in football, we got rather frustrated and angry.
“But we have to deal with it, that’s our job. If the ref lets that happen then we have to deal with it.”
Asked if the referee could have handled it better Klopp added: “There are a lot of things you can do. You can give yellow cards for everything.
“If you go down, you act like you die and then the next moment you get up, yellow card. It’s possible. It’s unsportsmanlike behaviour.
“In the end, it’s hectic and everyone is going down. I don’t expect help from a ref, I just expect him to calm all these things down.
“The crowd was up, it’s really difficult and we were not calm enough. Even Joe Gomez got a yellow card. He’s the nicest boy on this planet and he was close to getting a red.”
PSG manager Thomas Tuchel disagreed, suggesting his compatriot was using it as a diversionary tactic.
“I did not feel it was such a big issue. We have five minutes overtime, we suffered a lot of fouls – you don’t have to do fouls,” he said.
“I don’t even want to talk about it because for me it is not a subject.
“When I lose big games I am angry and I talk about stuff just to bring attention away from the result. I am only talking about the game.”
Liverpool started slowly and allowed their hosts to take a grip of the game with Juan Bernat giving them a 14th-minute lead which was doubled by Neymar starting and finishing a counter-attack.
James Milner scored a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Sadio Mane was brought down by Angel Di Maria but despite some second-half pressure the Reds could not force an equaliser.
It leaves Liverpool having to beat Napoli at Anfield either 1-0 or by two clear goals to progress to the knockout stage.
“We need Anfield again and we need to create an atmosphere which is pretty special. We know that,” Klopp said.
“But Napoli is a really strong side. If we go through we deserve it, and if not then we don’t.
“We are not afraid of that, and I believe you get what you deserve. That’s it. We have to try everything.”
Jurgen Klopp’s first season at Anfield was full of promise. Liverpool had begun to regress under Brendan Rodgers but the German’s fresh ideas, infectious personality and fast-paced brand of football had the red half of Merseyside dreaming of great things.
The progress into his second season was ominous. The upbeat melodic tunes were cranked up, way up, and Klopp had neighbours wringing their fists at the heavy metal waves emanating from his garage. Lead guitarist Philippe Coutinho dropped out but new axeman Mohamed Salah stepped up and then they really took the show on the road.
The football was irresistible, bordering on reckless even and always made for a spectacular watch. It was crazy, so crazy that it nearly worked, taking them to the cusp of European glory only to fall at the final hurdle while a porous defence meant they had to settle for fourth in the Premier League.
Into his third campaign now and still trophyless, Klopp has a few new arrangements in mind. It’s proved to be less head-banging and more head-bobbing. Their legion of fans are somewhat disappointed but they’re more radio-friendly and a hit with record labels. They aren’t quite as captivating live but audiences remain engrossed and they’re testing off the charts.
Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Vicarage Road over the weekend is evidence of that. They struggled to break down Watford’s resistance and the scoreline flattered them in the end but the result was never in doubt, only the approach now more methodical.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s form has forced Klopp to try to include him where possible and that’s led to a 4-2-3-1 formation this season, the same that was deployed on Saturday. The main benefits of the system apart from accommodating the Swiss are that he doesn’t have to sacrifice any of Liverpool’s big three in attack.
It’s even helped Mohamed Salah be more involved through the middle as a centre forward after the Egyptian endured a slow start – by his own lofty standards – in the early stages of the season. He’s getting more touches in dangerous areas and having more shots from inside the box.
Meanwhile, a double pivot in midfield makes for a more formidable core, offering their defence – which has steadily improved through Virgil van Dijk’s growing influence – greater protection.
However, they do compromise on the fluidity they enjoyed last season. There are questions being asked of the current shape Klopp seems to employ with increasing regularity but such inquisitions are misguided.
The Reds have still played a 4-3-3 formation more often than not this season but the roles assigned to players within it have been altered. Subtle tweaks have left them less vulnerable at the back, chief among them being their less aggressive and more calculated press.
Liverpool don’t look nearly as threatening as they did last season but perhaps that shouldn’t be the priority, especially in the Champions League. The stability of the 4-2-3-1 system has been encouraging while it also poses enough avenues in attack.
The Reds have conceded just five goals from 13 games in the Premier League this term. The improvement from a defensive standpoint is palpable and while the current system – still in its infancy – hasn’t produced breathtaking football, it’s proved incredibly efficient.
Klopp has started in a 4-2-3-1 formation five times this season with great success. It has yielded five wins and a whopping 16 goals with only one in reply. Granted, it’s not always easy on the eye and it’s only been used against Southampton, Red Star, Cardiff City, Fulham and Watford so far, but you can’t argue with the results.
Liverpool face Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night with a place in the Champions League round of 16 up for grabs. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, both injury doubts ahead of the clash, seem set to win their respective fitness races.
Their inclusion will demand a meticulous away performance from the Reds, one they’re better equipped to produce this season and they have the surprisingly pragmatic musings of their manager to thank for that.
John Toshack says Jurgen Klopp’s future at Liverpool cannot be guaranteed unless he wins a trophy this season.
Klopp steered Liverpool into the final of the Champions League last season, and the Reds have followed that up by making their best start to a Premier League campaign with 33 points from 13 games.
But Klopp has failed to land a trophy in his three years at Anfield – and former Liverpool favourite Toshack feels the German must do that this term to make life easier for himself on Merseyside.
“If Liverpool don’t win a trophy this year then they’ve got a decision to make (about Klopp),” former Real Madrid and Wales manager Toshack said.
“Things look really good at the moment, but this is Klopp’s third full season at Liverpool and this is the acid test for him.
“You can be unlucky not to win a trophy, but at the top clubs that’s what matters.
“It’s such a fine dividing line, but when you’re at a club like Liverpool that’s what it’s all about.”
Former Borussia Dortmund boss Klopp initially agreed a three-year deal to become Liverpool manager in October 2015.
He signed an extended six-year deal in July 2016, with Liverpool’s American owners saying it would have been “irresponsible” not to offer Klopp a long-term contract.
Unbeaten Liverpool currently trail champions Manchester City by two points, and have a huge Champions League trip to Paris St Germain on Wednesday.
“Klopp seems a super guy,” Toshack told Press Association Sport.
“He’s open with the players and tells it how it is.
“Maybe he’s too passionate at times, but the dividing line is so thin between first and second.
“You feel City have got the edge with Pep Guardiola because they’ve got trophies behind them.
“That’s a big thing and Liverpool haven’t won any yet.”
Toshack’s own journey from Cardiff to Liverpool, Madrid and many other stops far and wide is told in a new book which chronicles an extraordinary career.
The former Liverpool striker took Swansea from the old fourth division to the first, managed Real Madrid twice, and has worked in 10 different countries.
But the 69-year-old Welshman feels his last job at Iranian club Tractor Sazi, which he left in September, could mark the end of over half-a-century in football.
“I don’t think I’ll ever lose my love for the game, it’s been my life, but when you’re approaching 70 years of age it’s not the same,” Toshack said.
“I don’t see myself having too much more time in this profession, and the last job might be it.
“I found that one really difficult. It was a new club taken over by Iranian people from Turkey who knew of me from my days at Besiktas.
“In six league games we won two, drew three, and lost one – and, with a new club, that wasn’t such a bad start.
“But I think they thought ‘Toshack’s coming in and we’ll win the Championship before Christmas’.
“It didn’t work out like that and I’m finding that part of the job a lot harder than I did years ago.”